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Choice Voting On Campus

Using Choice Voting in School Elections

Choice voting is the form of proportional representation most commonly used for student elections in the United States. While the winner-take-all systems currently found at most schools allow dominant groups to sweep the vast majority of seats, choice voting lets smaller student groups consolidate their support and win representation. When implemented at colleges and universities, choice voting has typically resulted in more diverse legislative bodies, greater student engagement and increased turnout.

FairVote works closely with schools that have adopted proportional representation to study how it is operating and how we can assist with future student government reform. If your school is interested in adopting proportional representation please visit our colleges and universities section for more information on how to adopt choice voting.

Schools using Choice Voting

(Note that this list is incomplete: if you are aware of any other colleges or universities using a choice voting, or considering choice voting, please contact us.)

Harvard University

Harvard uses the choice voting system to tally their ballots for the Harvard-Radcliffe Undergraduate council as outlined in Article II, Section 21.4 of their Constitution. Created in the spring of 1982 to serve as an advocate for student concerns, organize campus-wide social events, and provide funding for student organizations, the Havard-Radcliffe Undergraduate council has an annual budget of approximately $210,000.  It is the first centralized and funded student government in the history of Harvard College.

Lewis and Clark College

In March 2005, the Associated Students of Lewis and Clark College, Portland Oregon adopted instant runoff voting for all single seat elections, and choice voting for all multi-seat elections. Article IV of the student association bylaws describes choice voting as the “most democratic method” of counting ballots.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT's Undergraduate Association uses choice voting to elect all student officers. Article 5, Section 5 of their bylaws outlines the procedures for counting ballots using choice voting. 

Oberlin College

Oberlin adopted choice voting to elect its Student Senators in 2008, after choice voting received 62% of the vote in a 2007 Student Referendum.

University of California at Berkeley

UCB uses IRV and choice voting to elect student officers. Their voting procedures are outlined in Article VII, Section 5 of their constitution.

University of California - Davis

The Associated Students of the University of California - Davis (ASUCD) has used choice voting since January 2002.  Over 2,000 students signed petitions to add choice voting to the ASUCD.  Since then, voter turnout has increased consistently each year.  The elected officials of the ASUCD are responsible for managing a $9.2 million dollar operational budget, which funds a host of student services. A fundamental characteristic of ASUCD is that it is primarily student managed and staffed, employing about 1,500 students.

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.

Vassar College

In September of 2002 Vassar's student government voted nearly unanimously to adopt instant runoff voting and the choice voting for future student elections.

Whitman College

Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington uses IRV for its single-seat elections and choice voting to elects its Student Senate.

Schools Using Other Proportional Representation Systems


University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The Student Government uses the open party list form of Proportional representation for legislative offices and instant runoff voting for executive offices.  2002 was the first election under these voting rules.

Carleton College (Northfield, MN)

Cumulative Voting, a form of Proportional representation that elects representatives from multi-member districts, has long been used for legislative elections at Carleton.