Sample Constitutional Amendment
Student Government Constitutional Amendment

WHEREAS Title ____, Chapter ____, Section ___ of the by-laws reads “ [the current text providing for plurality or runoff elections],” and

WHEREAS [any problem the student government association (SGA) has faced; ex: limited choice; not a true representation of political opinion on campus; voter turnout has declined s in recent elections, etc.]

WHEREAS choice voting ensures that there is accurate representation of the votes case, and that no vote is ‘wasted’ while also encouraging positive campaigning,

BE IT ENACTED that Title ___, Chapter ____, Sections ___ of the by-laws be amended to read:

Section ____ For the purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

"Choice Voting" or “Single Transferable Vote (STV)” means a method of casting and tabulating votes in which a candidate passed the ‘threshold’ in order to be elected. In elections using the STV method, voters may rank the candidates in order of preference.

"Advancing candidate" means a candidate who has not been eliminated.

"Continuing ballot" means a ballot that is not an exhausted ballot.

"Exhausted ballot" means a ballot on which there are no choices marked other than choices for eliminated candidates.

“Threshold” will refer to the previously determined amount of votes a candidate needs in order to be declared elected.

“Surplus” the amount of votes an elected candidate receives that is over the stipulated threshold.

“Fractional Transfer” describes how a vote will be counted from the surplus of another, already elected, candidate.

Section ____ For the offices of [Senate, Environmental officers, Co-presidents etc], the ballots shall be counted by the method of single transferable vote, prescribed herein:

  1. Calculate the threshold number of votes: Votes / (Seats +1) + 1 vote. Any decimals from this calculation will be ignored.
  2. The initial round of counting shall be a count of the first choices marked on each ballot. If any candidate receives the required amount of votes to pass the threshold, that candidate shall be declared elected, pending ratification.
  3. If there are still positions to be filled (because the required number of candidates did not pass the required ‘threshold’ to fill all positions available), there shall be a second round of counting which will proceed as such:  
    • The surplus votes received by any candidate who passed the threshold will be transferred to the ballot’s next highest ranked candidate, and counted as fractional transfer according to the following formula and expressed as a percentage (Number of votes - threshold) / (Number of votes)
    • If all positions are filled after this step because the required number of candidates have now passed the threshold, these candidates shall be declared elected, pending ratification
  4. If the required number of candidates have not been elected after this step, then the candidate with the lowest number of votes shall be eliminated. The eliminated candidate’s votes will count fully (not a fractional transfer) for the voter’s second choice on the ballot. 
  5. Once these votes are transferred any candidates who have passed the threshold shall be declared elected, pending ratification. If there are still positions to be filled steps 3 and 4 will be repeated (as necessary) until all positions have been filled.  
  6. If a ballot does not list a preference for a single round, the process will continue with the next ranking. If a ballot has two or more consecutive rankings skipped, it shall not be counted in that or any subsequent round. 
  7. If there are not sufficient second and lower choices for any candidate to pass the determined threshold the candidate with the highest number of votes shall be declared the winner, pending ratification.
  8. No vote (fractional or otherwise) shall be transferred to a candidate who has either passed the threshold or has been eliminated. Any votes for these aforementioned candidates will simply be transferred to the next highest ranked advancing candidate in that round. 
  9. When a ballot becomes an exhausted ballot it shall not be counted in that round or any subsequent round.

Recent Articles
October 19th 2009
A better election system
Lowell Sun

Election expert Doug Amy explains how choice voting can "inject new blood" into the elections of Lowell (MA), and give voters a greater incentive to participate.

October 16th 2009
Haven't Detroit voters spoken enough?
Livingston Daily

In Detroit, there have been three mayors in the past two years and the current one has come under scrutiny. Perhaps a system like instant runoff voting will help bring political stability to motor city.

August 21st 2009
Black candidate for Euclid school board to test new voting system
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Limited voting, a form of proportional voting, will be used in Euclid (OH), in the hopes of allowing better representation of minorities.

July 2nd 2009
Reforming Albany
New York Times

FairVote's Rob Richie responds in a letter to the editor making the case for proportional voting systems to bring substantive reform to New York's legislature.