By Sam Coates
Published January 24th 2003 in London Times
Instant runoff voting (IRV) is a popular system in the United Kingdom, where it is usually known as "the alternative vote." On March 14-15, more than 50,000 members of the Oxford University community are expected to vote under IRV rules to elect their new chancellor. The preceding chancellor, Lord Roy Jenkins, died in January. Jenkins was perhaps the nation's most prominent backer of full representation for national elections.
Below is an article from the January 24 2003 London Times by Sam Coates. At this point, Bill Clinton was being suggested as a potential candidate.
ROY JENKINS'S lifelong dream of electoral reform in England is to be fulfilled, weeks after his death.
But it will not be MPs who are chosen by single transferable vote; it will be his own successor as Chancellor of Oxford University. Oxford is preparing to scrap first-past-the-post for the election to be held
on March 14 and 15.
Had the university switched earlier, Jenkins might well have been denied the post in 1987, since he won by splitting the so-called Tory vote between the historian Lord Blake and Edward Heath. Then a record 8,300 of the 40,000 eligible graduates took part, with Jenkins winning by fewer than 600 votes.
This time the electorate has grown to about 60,000 after an amendment to the rules to include all graduates and not simply those whose degrees have been converted into an MA after seven years. Those who wish to do so in person and a special graduation ceremony has been organised for March 11 to enable as many people as take part.
Would-be candidates for the chancellorship have until February 25 to apply, but none has do so yet. Bill Clinton, Chris Patten, the former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler of Brockwell and Michael Heseltine have all been mentioned as possible runners.
Jenkins's fellow Gang of Four member Baroness Williams of Crosby has withdrawn from the contest, however. She said last night that she would find herself with an irreconcilable conflict of interest if the university decided to charge top-up fees, to which she is opposed.
Traditionally nominations have come from politics or the Church, but this time the organisers say that candidates from further afield should consider
applying. The University Gazette has published guidelines, saying: "He or she must be a person of integrity and have tact, discretion and sound