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Adopting Fair Elections for Student Governments

February 2003

Big Wins!

Interest in fair elections systems for student elections around the country has been gaining momentum. More and more schools are using Instant Runoff Voting for single winner elections like student body president. And some schools have also added the Choice Voting method of full representation for their legislative elections. This has been evidenced by two recent victories at major U.S. universities.  

University of California at Davis

On February 20, students at UCD voted 67%-33% to use choice voting for Associated Student Senate elections and IRV for presidential elections. The California Aggie reports on the change.

Duke University

Duke Student Government will elect their six executive committee members through instant runoff voting. After approving the system for this spring's elections, officials have since decided the ballot counting proceedures will not be ready until spring 2004. Read coverage of the change from The Chronicle .

Building on our Success

To create a strong base to work from, we are currently compiling a list of Student Governments that engage in some kind of fair elections method.  Below is a list of the schools we have found, and what system they use.  The list is far from complete however, so please notify us at [email protected] if you know of any schools not on our list that use full representation voting method such as IRV or PR.

For more information on how to pursue IRV at your school, please see Using Instant Runoff Voting in School Elections .

Rice University

The Rice Student Assembly uses IRV to elect the members of their Executive Committee. The most recent election for President included six candidates and 11 rounds of voting. Read more in the Rice Thresher .

College of William and Mary

The Student Assembly at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA approved IRV for all student elections.

Carleton College (Northfield, MN)

Cumulative Voting has long been used for legislative elections at Carleton, but in 2002, instant runoff voting was (re-)implemented for executive positions.  "Preferential Voting" had long been in the school's constitution, and was rediscovered when a student activist requested the student government change its voting system.  Read An Account of how one student put instant runoff voting back into use at Carleton.

The California Institute of Technology

The Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology use IRV to elect their Vice President (Board of Control Chairman), the Board of Control Secretary, and the Interhouse Committee Chairman as outlined in Article VIII, Section 4 & 5 of their Constitution.

Franklin Elementary School (Berkeley CA)

In November 2001, students in grades K-6 used instant runoff voting to elect the leader of their school, the City of Franklin Elementary.

Harvard University

Since the 1940s, Harvard has used the hare proportional voting system to tally their ballots for the Harvard-Radcliffe Undergraduate council as outlined in Article II, Section 21.4 of their Constitution.

Johns Hopkins University

JHU used instant runoff voting for its Freshman student council elections for the first time in the fall of 1999. 

Lane Community College

The Associated Students of Lane Community College use choice voting to elect their officers and senators as stated in Article IX, Section 6 of their Constitution.

Luther College

Luther College has been using IRV to elect the president, vice-president and secretary/treasurer positions.  Starting in 2004, Luther wil be used cumultive voting to three representatives from each class.  Moreover, six representatives to the Luther Diversity Center will also use IRV. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT uses instant runoff voting and choice voting for student government elections. 

Metropolitan State University

MSU recently decided to use the 'Borda count' method of choice voting in order to elect their officers.

Princeton University

Princeton's Undergraduate Student Government uses instant runoff voting for its Senatorial and U-Council elections. See Article VII Section D of their Constitution.

Stanford University

SU has been using choice voting for its academic elections since 1973.  In 2001 they adopted instant runoff voting for their council President election, and this spring the Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) held its second IRV election of its president, and for the second year in a row, avoided a costly and inconvenient runoff election.  See Results and a copy of the Online Ballot. IRV also received good press in the student newspaper. The April 16 Top Story was an explanation of how IRV works and why it was adopted, accompanied by a Flow Chart . The April 16 edition of the paper also included an Editorial

University of California at Berkeley

UCB uses IRV and a choice voting system to elect their officers.  They use a fractional choice voting count, which is performed manually.  Their voting procedures are outlined in Article VII, Section 5 of their Constitution.

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The Student Government uses proportional representation for legislative offices and instant runoff voting for executive offices.  2002 will be the first elections under these voting rules, look Here for more information.

University of Maryland

UMD's primary campus voted in the spring of 2002 to use IRV to elect its student government.  Read editorials about the decisions from February 2002 and April 2002 .

University of Michigan

UM uses the 'Borda count' voting system within their LSA Student Government (College of Literature, Science, and the Arts) as stated in Article VII, Section C-2 of their Constitution. The MSA (Michigan Student Assembly) also uses the 'Borda count' method to elect their representatives, as outlined in Article V, Section A-1 of their Constitution.

University of Washington

Graduate Student Government at the University of Washington has adopted instant runoff voting for single-winner elections and the undergraduate student government may follow.

University of Wisconsin

The United Council of University of Wisconsin Students has adopted IRV. The United Council is the nation's oldest, largest, and strongest statewide student association, representing over 140,000 students at 24 UW System Campuses.

Vassar College

In September of 2002 Vassar's student government voted nearly unananimously to adopt instant runoff voting and the choice voting form of proportional representation for future student elections.  Read CVD's Report On The Win .

Whitman College

Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington recently passed a resolution to use IRV for its single-seat elections and Choice Voting to elects its Student Senate.

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