Voices & Choices

Ranked choice voting on campus? UT-Austin votes yes

Ranked choice voting on campus? UT-Austin votes yes

College campuses feature prominently among the growing ranks of institutions embracing ranked choice voting (RCV), with UT-Austin becoming one of the latest universities to adopt an RCV measure for its campus-wide elections.

According to an article from The Daily Texan, UT-Austin will use a form of ranked choice voting in which multiple candidates win seats in the same race - known in the U.K. and Australia as ‘single transferable vote.’ Under this system, students rank their preferred candidates, just like a standard ranked choice voting election. Similarly, backup choices come into play if not enough candidates earn enough first choices. The difference is that multiple candidates win, each with their own smaller share of the vote.

Multi-winner RCV guarantees that no votes are wasted, ensuring that the elected representatives serve a broad swath of the electorate.

Morgan Lawless, president of Longhorns for Voting Reform, cited election structures in Maine and cities around the country as examples of the relevance of instituting ranked choice voting on campus.

Cities have used this for a while with great success, and Maine actually just adopted rank choice voting for their congressional elections. We thought that it would be great to kind of introduce people to this system of voting through Student Government elections, and lots of other universities do this as well.”

Indeed, UT-Austin joins more than 65 universities across the world in adopting ranked choice voting. Additionally, they become a member of a more exclusive subset of 11 universities that have instituted a multi-winner RCV system.

It is clear that, as Lawless implies, universities are laboratories for the future of the democracy and, as such, it is refreshing to see young adults of our country embracing election reform.

Learn more about how multi-winner ranked choice voting works and where it’s used around the world here.

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