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IRV at Carleton College

February 1, 2002


From an e-mail message by a Carleton student:

Here's a success story for IRV supporters. The Carleton Student
Association at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota will use Instant Runoff Voting to elect officers to the student government in the next few weeks. Carleton already uses cumulative voting for its Senate and other bodies, but has relied on plurality voting for executive positions.

How did this happen? I made a presentation to Senate that the election guidelines in its by-laws elected officers without majority support. Using the packet developed by the Center for Voting and Democracy, I showed how IRV elections are fairer and more democratic. As an additional important point, I noted how the plurality system discourages students from running.
With IRV, Carleton might have more participation.

My proposal (which I made having no official status within student government) was passed on to Policy Committee. I went to Policy Committee meetings to answer questions about IRV, and they were impressed.

An ironic twist in the story is that, known to no one, IRV was already built into the constitution. However, since nobody knew what was meant by "preferential voting," the by-laws were later drafted for a plurality system.

As a way to ensure the success of IRV, I applied and interviewed for an replacement appointment on the Senate. I was nominated by the proper committee and confirmed by the Senate. Since becoming a Senator, I've been involved with the IRV ad-hoc committee and I can also help as part of the election Task Force.

Since I have full voting rights now as a Senator, I look forward to
approving an upcoming measure to get the by-laws in line with our IRV-friendly constitution.

Currently, the webmaster is developing an input system for the elections, and there should be a test system ready by the end of the weekend. We're using ChoicePlus Lite, or possibly some in-house solution.

A nice surprise is that the change to IRV is happening the same year that I got the ball rolling. It looks like it's a good thing, too, since we expect to have at least three people running for President, and about five for Vice President (there aren't joint tickets at Carleton).

So for those interested in getting IRV implemented, try making a proposal to lawmakers and then get appointed/elected as a lawmaker. It worked for me.

Good luck in all your efforts to promote IRV around the country!

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