Last week, students at the University of California - Berkeley elected their student government for the 2016-17 year. Like 15 other schools in California and over 50 across the US, Berkeley uses ranked choice voting (RCV) in campus elections. Students there use both forms of RCV, electing executive positions using single-winner instant runoff voting, and electing the Senate via multi-winner RCV, also known as single transferrable vote.
More than 12,500 of Berkeley’s roughly 38,000 students (32%) participated in this year’s election for the Associated Students of the University of California Senate and executive branch. This level of turnout is impressive in student elections and can be, at least in part, attributed to the dynamic climate around campus politics at Berkeley. Berkeley has used RCV in its student government elections since 2002, creating a tradition of highly competitive races that continued this year. The 2016 contest had five candidates running for President. In Senate elections, members of three parties and one independent were able to win seats in the 20-member body.
RCV’s popularity at California schools is a reflection of the state’s interest in alternative voting methods. Four California cities already use RCV to elect their local governments, and a bill in the state Senate this year would enable every city and county to do so. In RCV elections, voters go to polls knowing they have real choice and the chance to make their voices heard. When candidates win, they know that their positive campaigns have earned them the support of a true majority of their communities. Here’s what that looks like:
Image source: brainchildvn