Colleges and Universities Using Ranked Choice Voting
A growing number of colleges and universities are following the recommendations of Robert's Rules of Order and adopting instant runoff voting (also called "preferential voting" and "ranked choice voting") for single-winner elections like student body president -- most of the uses below are since 2001, but others date back decades. Additionally, some schools have added the choice voting method of proportional voting for their legislative elections.
Note: If you know of any colleges or universities using IRV that are not on our list, please send us a note at: [email protected]. Student organizations can evolve quickly, so some information presented here may be out of date.
List of American Colleges and Universities using ranked choice voting (RCV) (as of December 2013)
- Arizona State University - Uses instant runoff voting (here called “preferential voting”) to elect members of the Academic Assembly.
- Boise State University - Associated Students of Boise State University (ABSU) uses an instant runoff voting system for all of the elected positions on its executive council. Read more about BSU's IRV bylaw here.
- California Institute of Technology - The Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology use IRV to elect their Vice-President (Board of Control Chairperson), the Board of Control Secretary and the Interhouse Committee Chairperson and the Conduct Review Committee Student Chairman. See Article VIII, Section 5 & 6 of the ASCIT Constitution here.
- California State University, Chico - IRV was adopted in 2005 by the university's student government. Since then, voter turnout has increased, with the Spring 2008 elections reaching the highest turnout ever.
[See Spring 2008 Election Results]
- California State University, Northridge - IRV is used in runoff elections for student government positions.
[See Associated Students Elections Page]
- California Polytechnic State University - The California Polytechnic State University's ASI adopted IRV in 2007 for its Presidential ticket election. According to the ASI Bylaw 220.127.116.11, "The Presidential Election ballot shall include provisions necessary for Instant Runoff Voting such that in the event that no candidate receives a majority of the vote a winner will be determined based on the ranking of candidates by each Member at the duly held election."
[Spring 2008 Elections Results]
[Mustang Daily Article on IRV adoption]
- Claremont-McKenna College - IRV is used to elect the President, Vice President, Social Affairs Council Chair, Dormitory Affairs Council Chair, Student Life Council Chair, and Class Presidents.
[Read the Associated Students of Claremont-McKenna College Constitutuion Article 2(f)(ii)]
- Clark University - The Student Council at this Massachusetts university held its first instant runoff elections for all student offices in 2003.
[See CUSC Bylaw 201, Section 8.1]
- Concordia University School of Law - The Student Bar Association of the Concordia University School of Law uses IRV for the election of its Executive Board, House of Delegates, and Elected Representatives.
[See Chapter 3, Section 4 of the bylaws.]
- Cornell University - Cornell University students use IRV to elect two Student-Elected Trustees who serve as full-voting members of Cornell University's Board of Trustees. IRV is referenced as "the Hare System" in all Cornell legal documents. In 2009, it adopted IRV for elections to student government.
[See Spring 2008 Elections Results Here.] [See 2012 Trustee Nominating Committee Election Rules.]
- Duke University - Duke’s Student Government has been electing its six executive committee members through IRV since 2004. Since then, IRV has been applied to all elections to make sure "the winner of all elections will be determined by a majority" as explained in the election bylaws.
- Emory Law School - Used for Student Bar Association elections.
[Read explanation of IRV on school's website]
- George Washington University - Georges Washington University's Student Association adopted on March 2011 by referendum Instant Runoff Voting; allowing the SA Senate to implement the measure for every student elections. The system was not used in 2012 or 2013.
[See the GW Hatchet talking about this improvement]
- Georgetown University - Georgetown University's Student Association voted in April 2006 to implement IRV for their presidential elections. In fall 2006 students approved IRV for student Senate elections by a margin of ten-to-one. They held a successful election that October and have used IRV for all student Senate elections since being adopted, except for one election in 2009. In the Fall of 2013, Georgetown switched from an instant runoff system to a single transferable voting system for districts with more than one seat.
[Articles here and here about the high-turnout multi-candidate election in 2012]
[Hoya Article about Spring 2008 IRV Elections.]
[Hoya: How IRV worked in the 2011 presidential election]
- Harvard University - The Graduate Dormitory Council, the Graduate Music Forum and the Graduate Student Council each use IRV for their internal executive position elections. The single transferable vote system (STV, also called "the Hare-Clark system") is used to elect the President and Vice President of the Undergraduate Student Council.
[See Bylaws of the Harvard Undergraduate Council, Article VII]
- Hendrix College - Hendrix College used IRV for the first time during the 2003-04 academic year. Voter participation doubled and students said they were happy with the immediate results. The voting system (also called rank voting system) is used for all student association elections.
[See Article II, Section 5 of Hendrix College Election Code]
- Johns Hopkins University - JHU used instant runoff voting for the first time during its freshman student council elections in the fall of 1999, but currently does not use the system.*
- Lawrence University - Lawrence University used instant runoff voting for the first time for the election of the LLUC president and vice president in 2012. It has continued to use the system in the Fall of 2013 for their District Representative Elections Fall of 2013 for their District Representative Elections. As a result, the university has seen a significant increase in voting participation.
- Louisiana State University Law Center - The Student Bar Association at the LSU Law Center uses IRV to elect its officers. Associated Students of Loyola Marymount University use Instant Runoff Voting to elect their president and vice president.
[See Article IV of the association's constitution]
- Loyola Marymount University - The Associated Students of Loyola Marymount University use Instant Runoff Voting to elect their president and vice president.
[See the ASLMU Elections Code, Section 3.K]
- Luther College - Luther College in Iowa adopted IRV in the Spring of 2003. At first, the Student Government used IRV only for electing the President, Vice-President and Secretary, but this will be expanded to include class representatives to the Student Senate.*
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - MIT students use instant runoff voting for all of their student government elections including President, Vice-President, class councils and Student Senate. Its Web site includes detailed breakdowns of the transfer of votes within each election since 2000. [See the MIT Election Results and Archives.]
- McMaster University - The McMaster Students Union uses IRV for presidential elections with more than two candidates.
[See McMaster Student Union Constitution]
- Middlebury College - IRV was adopted in 2011 for future elections. Read more about Middlebury's IRV bylaw here.
- The New School - The New School's Student Senate uses instant runoff voting to elect its Executive Board.
[See Article VII, Section B of the Constitution of The New School's Student Senate.]
- Northeastern University - Adopted IRV (referred to in bylaws as "preferential voting") for student government elections in 2009, as detailed here.
- North Carolina State University - In 2008, North Carolina State University students used IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) and STV (Single Transferable Voting, or "choice voting") for their elections for the first time. The Student Body President, the Student Senate President, the Student Body Treasurer, the Student Body Chief Justice, the Student Centers President, the Union Activities Board President, Senior Class Presidents and Leaders of the pack are elected through IRV. In the meantime, Student Senators, Student Centers Board of Directors and the Student Media Board are elected through STV. The idea of changing the voting method for student elections came after Cary (NC) residents elected their mayor with the IRV system in October 2007. [Read the bill]
[See the Technician Online Coverage.]
[Spring 2013 Election Results.]
Also, see the Technician's breakdown of how IRV works.
- Plymouth State University - Plymouth State University uses instant runoff voting for student government elections.
- Pomona College - Pomona College uses IRV in order to determine who wins an election. Read their election code here.
- Portland State University - Portland State overwhelmingly approved of IRV for key Associated Students races 79 to 21 percent after the Student Senate unanimously passed the measure in Feb. 2005. All the major candidate slates supported IRV. In 2006, the first IRV election enabled three slates to run, and resulted in a 51 to 49 percent tally between the strongest slates. IRV is currently used for the President/VP ticket and the Student Fee Committee Chair.
[Read the Daily Vanguard Coverage of 2006 Elections.]
[See the Associated Students of Portland State University Constitution, Article VIX]
- Rice University - The Rice Student Association uses IRV to elect its members of single offices. One recent election for President included six candidates. IRV is also used to elect the Faculty Council.
[See the Rice SA Constitution - Bylaw E]
- Reed College - The Reed Student Body Elections Code (as amended in April 2001) provides for IRV in its Presidential and Vice-Presidential elections and for choice voting for other student council elections.*
- Oberlin College - In a Student Referendum proposed in 2007, STV was supported by 62% of the student body. Oberlin's voting method of electing Student Senators was officially changed to STV in April of 2008.
Read here for a recent summary of Oberlin's voting practices.
- Santa Fe College - Santa Fe College was the first community college in the U.S to use IRV for its student elections. In March 2008, the Student Association President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer were elected with IRV.
][See the Student Government Constitution, Article III, Section 2]
[Student Press Coverage.]
[Read the Center for Student Leadership and Activities at SFCC's Report]
- Seattle University School of Law - The bylaws of the Seattle University School of Law Student Bar Association require that each office in the organization's executive and legislative branches be elected using instant runoff voting.
[See Chapter 4, Section 3 of the Student Bar Association bylaws.]
- Sonoma State University - After the adoption of IRV in San Francisco's city council elections, the students of Sonoma State University decided to move to IRV themselves for general elections. Sonoma State elections using IRV started in the 2004-05 academic year.
[See Section IX of the SSU STudent Elections Code.]
- Stanford University - In 2001, the Associated Students of Stanford University adopted instant runoff voting for executive offices and class presidencies.
[The Spring 2008 Results in The Daily Stanford.]
[See the Consitution of the Associated Students of Stanford University.]
[Read a commentary about the reasons Stanford uses instant runoff voting for its student elections.]
- Texas A&M University - Texas A&M introduced ranked choice voting for the Fall 2013 cycle of their student senatorial elections.
- Tufts University - The Tufts student body approved a new constitution for the Tufts Community Union in 2003. IRV was included in the new version both for the presidential election, Senate in-house elections and TCU in-house elections.
[See the TCU Constitution, Article VI.]
[See the Tufts Daily Coverage of Spring 2008 Elections]
- University of California at Berkeley - The Associated Students of the University of California at Berkeley has used IRV (which they call the alternative vote) to elect its executive officers since 2002. It uses choice voting for senate elections.
[See Article VII of the ASUC Constitution for information on Senate elections.]
[See Title IV of the ASUC Bylaws for information on the election of executive officers.]
- University of California, Davis - The president and vice-president of the Associated Students of the University of California, Davis have been elected together through IRV since 2005. The Senate is elected via choice voting (single transferable vote). Instant runoff voting is also used to elect the president of the Law Students Association at the UC Davis School of Law.
[See Section 406 of the ASUCD Bylaws}
[See the ASUCD Elections homepage.]
[See the Constitution and Bylaws of the UC Davis Law Students Association.]
- University of California, Los Angeles - The Graduate Students Association's executive officers, including the President and Vice-Presidents on Internal, External and Academic Affairs, are elected through IRV since April 2006.
[Read the Graduate Students Association, Election Code, 9.7.5 ]
[The Daily Bruin Press Coverage.]
[Spring 2008 Election Coverage]
- University of California, Merced - The Associated Students of the University of California, Merced use IRV for the election of their executive officers. [See section 4.7 of the ASUCM Election Bylaws]
- University of California, San Diego - In March 2008, UCSD students used IRV for the first time to elect their President, Vice President, Academic Senators and College Senators. [See Title IX of the Standing Rules of the AS of UCSD]
[Press Release on the adoption of IRV]
- University of California at Santa Barbara - UC Santa Barbara use instant runoff voting for all executive offices.
[See Article XIV of the Bylaws of The Associated Students of UCSB]
- University of Iowa - In 2006, the President and the Vice President of the UI Student Government were elected by IRV for the first time. Senators are also elected using this method - for humanities, fine arts, nursing, natural sciences, social sciences, business, education, and engineering (areas of study) and at-large. After the 2008 elections the Daily Iowan reports: "A record-setting 32.53 percent of eligible students voted in the UISG electronic runoff ballot, casting 6,357 votes".
[Read the Daily Iowan Article about IRV in U.S Universities]
- University of Minnesota - In the 3rd amendment to its constitution, the University of Minnesota Student Association stated the President and Vice-President shall be elected using IRV.
- University of San Diego School of Law - The Student Bar Association at the University of San Diego School of Law uses Instant Runoff Voting for the election of President, Vice President, Vice President of Organizations, Treasurer, Secretary, ABA Chair, and ABA Vice-Chair
- University of Virginia - IRV was brought to UVa student elections in 2003. "After many irregularities during past elections, Student Council and the University conducted two investigations/reports to propose a solution to the problems seen in runoffs in student elections over the past few years." The University Board of Elections also staged a mock 2004 U.S. presidential race using IRV.
[Read University Board of Elections Rules and Regulations for more information] [Read the Cavalier Daily's recent piece on UVA's class of 2017 elections]
- University of Washington - The Associated Students of the University of Washington use IRV to elect their officers.
[See the 2013 Election Policies and Procedures of the Associated Students of the University of Washington]
[Spring 2008 Elections Coverage by the Daily]
[The Daily Article on the Spring 2008 Results]
- University of Wisconsin Oshkosh - Since 2003, the Assembly of the Oshkosh Student Association has used IRV to elect its speaker and speaker-pro-tempore.
[See the Oshkosh Student Association Bylaws, Section 5.12]
- Vassar College - During Sept. 2002, the Vassar Student Association voted nearly unanimously to adopt instant runoff voting and the choice voting form of full representation for future student elections. In 2004, IRV and STV have been used for the first time to elect representatives for the freshman council, campus committees and the President. During the Spring 2008 student elections, all elections were held through IRV and STV (for the Judicial Board Representatives and Student Representatives).
[See the Fall 2013 Election Results]
[Read the 2004 Elections Coverage by The Miscellany News]
[See the Vassar Student Association Constitution and Bylaws, Article X, Section 10]
- Western Washington University - In 2012, WWU adopted IRV for its elections. For many years, the Student Senate has used IRV to elect its Vice-Chair and Parliamentarian.
[2012 minutes on debate on IRV and final language adopted]
- Whitman College - The Associated Students of Whitman College use IRV for its single-seat elections (Executive Council Elections) and choice voting (aka STV) to elect its Student Senate. Choice Voting is also used for Student Senate special elections and in case of interim IRV can be used as well.
[See Article XIII of the Bylaws of the ASWC,]
[Read an Whitman Pioneer article about Spring 2008 elections.]
Other Student Organizations Using Ranked Choice Voting/Instant Runoff Voting
- Brown University South Asian Students Association - Elects some of its officers using IRV.
- University of Connecticut School of Law Law Review
The Law Review at the University of Connecticut School of Law uses IRV to elect its officers.
- University of Minnesota Computer Science Graduate Student Association - Uses instant runoff voting to elect its president, vice president, and secretary.
- University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy - Uses a “secret ballot using instant runoff voting” to elect officers for its Grad Phi community.
- University of San Francisco Graduate Business Association - Uses instant runoff voting to elect its officers.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society - Uses IRV for all of its elections.
- University of Wyoming College of Law Natural Resource Law Club - Uses IRV to elect its officers.
- University of Chicago South Side Science Scholars - Use IRV for all of their elections.
* Denotes that verification of current use is being sought.
International Elections: Instant runoff voting is common in international universities as well, especially in English-speaking nations where it is often called "preferential voting.' It is typically used in all colleges and universities in Ireland and Australia. Among many examples, see Canada's University of Alberta and London's Queen Mary Student Union.