RCV in Private Organizations and Corporations

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Recommended by Robert’s Rules of Order for organizational elections conducted by mail, ranked choice voting (called “preferential voting” in Robert’s rules or "instant runoff voting") is used widely among organizations. Here is a partial list of such organizations, updated in March 2009. Organizations that use ranked choice voting for multi-seat elections are listed as "multi-winner." (If you know of additions, please send a note as well as a link to the organization to [email protected])

Highlighted Uses of Instant Runoff Voting by Organizations and Corporations

  • American Association of University Women (President, Vice President) - Founded in 1881 to advocate for education and equity, the association has approximately 100,000 members, 1,000 branches, and 500 college/university institution partners.
  • American Geophysical Union (President, General Secretary and International Secretary) - This worldwide scientific community advances, through unselfish cooperation in research, the understanding of the Earth and space for the benefit of humanity.
  • American Medical Student Association (President, Vice President for Membership, Vice President for Finances, Secretary, Vice President for Programming) - The oldest and largest independent association of physicians-in-training in the United States.
  • American Mensa (Chairman, First Vice-Chairman, Second Vice-Chairman, Secretary, and Treasurer) - The organization serves  people who score in the top 2 percent of the general population on an accepted standardized intelligence test. It has over 50,000 members.
  • American Philosophical Association (all Pacific and Eastern Division elections) - Founded in 1900, it is the main professional organization for philosophers in the United States.
  • American Psychological Association (President, Divisional Representatives to the Council of Representatives, six Members-At-Large of the Executive Committee) - As a  scientific and professional organization that represents psychology in the United States,  the APA is the largest association of psychologists worldwide, with approximately 150,000 members
  • Casualty Actuarial Society - "Currently celebrating its 100th year, the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) fulfills its mission to advance actuarial science through a singular focus on research and education for property and casualty actuarial practice. Among its 6,700 members are experts in property and casualty insurance, reinsurance, finance, risk management, and enterprise risk management. 
  • Consortium of College and University Media Centers (President, Secretary, Treasurer, Directors) - This dynamic organization's mission is to provide leadership and a forum for information exchange; over 750 members representing all sizes of institutions in higher learning.
  • League of American Bicyclists (Board of Directors) - The League promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation and work through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. They also conducted a mock multi-winner ranked choice voting election for the five best cyclists of all time, the results of which can be found here under the "How does the voting system work" subheading.
  • National Organization for Women (Regional Board Members, President, Vice President - Executive, Vice President - Action, Vice President - Membership) - Founded in 1966, NOW is the largest organization of feminist activists in the United States, with more than 500,000 contributing members and more than 500 local and campus affiliates in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Quota International (all elections) - Founded in 1919, Quota International is one of the oldest international service organizations for women, with 6,000 members.
  • Pacific Palisades Community Council (all elections) - The Council  plays an important role in local government in Los Angeles, serving as a forum for discussion and advocating for the community.
  • The Society of Actuaries (Board of Directors)-The Society of Actuaries is the largest actuarial professional organization in the world.

Other Uses of Instant Runoff Voting by Organizations and Corporations

*The Heisman Trophy, NCAA polls, and various other sports awards use a form of ranked voting known as the Borda count, where each ranking is given a certain point value.
**Federal Reserve regional directors are elected by the Bucklin form of ranked voting where all second choices are added to the totals of all first choices.

The use of multi-winner RCV (also referred to as the "single transferable vote" and the "Hare system")  is popular among organizations and corporations. Here are some examples of groups that use choice voting and how they use it.

Californians for Electoral Reform (Director) Directors are elected annually using choice voting.

CUNY Faculty Senate (Senators) Junior and Senior Senators are elected using choice voting.

Eclipse (Add-in Provider Members, Committer Members) Each Add-In Member or Committer Member, as applicable, is entitled to cast numbered preference votes for as many candidates as there are open seats on the Board allocated to Add-In Provider Members and Committer Members, as applicable.

Green Party of the United States (SC co-chairs) Co-chairs are elected using choice voting by means of the “Droop” method.  This requires that the total number of votes are divided by the number of seats plus one.  A candidate must pass this threshold to be elected.  A number of other ancillary Green Party organizations incorporate choice voting.

KPFA (Staff and Listener-Sponsor Delegates, Listener-Sponsor Directors, Affiliate Representative Directors) Any position that provides more than one seat is elected using choice voting.

League of Professional System Administrators (Director) Elections for Director are conducted using the "Meek" form of  choice voting.  The Meek method requires computer counting for a complicated formula that can be effective in ensuring that the elected candidates total votes are as equal as possible to the quotas.

McMaster University Faculty of Business(President, Provost, Dean of the Faculty (Chair), Associate Dean, Dean of Graduate Studies or delegate, Director of Undergraduate Programs , Director of MBA Program, Director of Ph.D. Program)
The Faculty Council (President, Provost, Vice-President (Research and International Affairs), Dean of the Faculty (Chair), Associate Dean of the Faculty, Dean of Graduate Studies or delegate, Director of the Engineering and Management Program, Chair of the Department of Economics or delegate, Chair of the Department of Mathematics & Statistics or delegate) 

All elections except for the full-time, non-teaching staff members of the Faculty employ choice voting.

Minnesota State Bar Association (officers, delegates, representatives to other bodies and commissions and representatives from the Assembly to the Council) The Droop method of creating a threshold for choice voting elections is used.

National Youth Rights Association (Board of Directors) Candidates for the board of directors will be selected by choice voting using the ERS97 method published by the Electoral Reform Society.

New Mexico State University (Faculty Committees) Choice voting is used to elect all committee members.

Open Grid Forum (Director) Elections use choice voting, with a recommendation for using a “suitable” algorithm such as pSTV.

Pacifica Radio (Delegates) Voters are given the option of voting for one candidate or ranking the candidates in order of preference, with the intention of achieving proportional representation.

Penn State University Faculty Senate Elections of senators are conducted using choice voting.

University of Texas at Austin Faculty Council (General Faculty Representatives) Elections of faculty representatives are conducted using choice voting.

West Virginia Association of Geospatial Professionals (All elections)

British Organizations Using Multi-Winner RCV

Many British organizations use multi-winner RCV (also called the single transferable vote or STV in the United Kingdom) for their elections. Here is a partial list, as of June 2008 -- note that there is a slight chance that some of these organizations either use a different ranked ballot system or have changed their election method recently.


Abbey National Group Union   
Amnesty International ASLEF Association for Physical Education   
Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland    
Association of British Clinical Diabetologists        
Association of Paediatric Anaesthetists      
Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust       
Basildon & Thurrock University Hospitals     
BECTU BFAWU Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Trust Blackpool, Fylde & Wyre Hospitals NHS Trust  
BMA - GPC    
BMA Consultants Committee    
BMA Council  
BMA Junior Doctors Committee BMA Medical Students Committee       
BMA Science & Education      
BMA Scotland Bolton, Salford & Trafford Mental Health Trust       
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust     
BRIT Awards Ltd      
British Airways Pensions     
British Computer Society     
British Humanist Association British Medical Journal      
British Transplant Society   
Cemex Centrica plc Chartered Institute of Linguists     
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy   
Chelsea & Westminster NHS Trust      
CIMA Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology NHS Foundation Trust       
Conservative Party   
Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust    
Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council   
Crown Estate CSC  
Derby Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust East London & The City Mental Health NHS Trust       
EDF Energy   
Educational Institute of Scotland    
Electoral Reform Society     
Ernst & Young Eversheds    
Family Law Bar Association   
First ScotRail       
First TransPennine Express   
Gallions Housing Association General Council of the Bar   
General Teaching Council for England General Teaching Council Wales       
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust       
Goitre Tower Anthracite Ltd  
Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust  
HAVCO (Haringey Association of Voluntary and Community Organisations)
Higher Education Academy     
Homerton University Hospital NHS Trust       
HSBC IBM United Kingdom Pensions Trust Limited    
Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE)   
Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) IOSH Kings Fund   
International Continence Society
Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust Lancashire Care NHS Trust    
Lancashire Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust Law Society  
Liberal Democrats    
Liverpool Women's NHS Foundation Trust       
London Civic Forum   
London Metropolitan University       
Londonwide Local Medical Committee   
Mensa International  
Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Trust     
Milk Link Limited    
MS Society   
MS Society Scotland  
National Autistic Society    
National Grid National Housing Federation  
National Union of Teachers   
NCVO - National Council for Voluntary Organisations  
New Cross Gate NDC   
NISA Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital NHS Trust    
North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (prospective)   
North Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust  
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Trust Northern Bank Pension Trust Limited
Northern Circuit
Northern Ireland Water       
NUJ - NEC    
OASIS (Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information Standards)
Octavia Housing & Care       
Open University      
Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust  
Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust       
Partnership of East London Co-operatives (PELC) Limited      
Pensions Management Institute Pensions Trust       
Pensions Trust, The  
Peterborough and Stamford NHS Foundation Trust       
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust       
Princess Royal Trust for Carers, The PwC  
PwC Hong Kong Rail Safety & Standards Board
Reading University Students' Union   
Royal Academy of Engineering Royal Bolton Hospitals NHS Trust     
Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust    
Royal British Legion Royal College of General Practitioners        
Royal College of Midwives    
Royal College of Nursing     
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Royal College of Physicians  
Royal College of Psychiatrists        
Royal College of Surgeons    
Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust       
Royal Town Planning Institute Sanofi Aventis       
Scottish Federation of Housing Associations  
Scottish Tobacco Control Alliance    
Senior Council for Devon     
SFLA (Solicitors Family Law Association)     
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Shell Pensions Trust Ltd     
Society for Cardiothoracic Surgeons of Great Britain & Ireland       
Society of Operations Engineers      
South Essex Partnership NHS Trust    
South Staffordshire Healthcare FT    
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust       
T & G Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust       
Telegraph Media Group
Terence Higgins Trust
The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference      
The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust   
Theatrical Management Association    
Turkish/British Chamber of Commerce  
UCATT UCLH NHS Foundation Trust    
UCU (University and College Union)   
UK Athletics UK Athletics Ltd     
Universities Personnel Association   
University & College Union - Open University Branch  
University of Birmingham     
University of Central Lancashire     
University of London Union   
University of the Arts London
Vegan Society
Whitehead Mann LLP  
Wirral Hospital NHS Trust  

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science announced in 2009 that it will use ranked choice voting (RCV) to choose its honoree for Best Picture, ensuring that the most celebrated movie of the year is one with strong support among Academy members. Used by the Academy in Best Picture voting before 1945, which was the last time ten pictures were nominated, RCV is a system in which voters rank their preferences in order of choice. The nominee with the fewest votes is eliminated, and ballots cast for that film are moved to voter's next choice among the remaining films. The process continues until one film has more than half the votes and is declared Best Picture of the Year.

Academy voters already appreciate the value of ranking candidates. Since the 1930s, the Academy has used the choice voting method of proportional voting to nominate best picture and most other categories. With choice voting, Academy members rank candidates just as with IRV, but it takes about a fifth of the vote to secure one of five nominations. Choice voting ensures that nearly all Academy members help nominate at least one nominee for best picture and other categories.

Earlier in 2009, the Academy announced that it would expand the Best Picture category from five to 10 nominees. Given that the nomination threshold will now be about a tenth of the vote, keeping the "first-past-the-post" voting system where voters can indicate a preference for just one choice would theoretically allow a film to take home the Oscar despite being potentially disliked by 89%. With RCV in place, the Best Picture winner is sure to be preferred by a large share of Academy members. This demonstrates how RCV improves single-seat political elections when more than two candidates run - because voters can rank their choices on their ballots, third party and independent candidates are no longer potential "spoilers," and no one takes office with small pluralities, but are far more likely to be the consensus choice of the majority.

"It's encouraging to see the Motion Picture Academy wisely adopt ranked choice voting," said Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote, a nonpartisan election reform organization that supports RCV. "It serves as another example of how RCV can not only improve how we pick our favorite movies, but how we can have more meaningful choices for leaders and representatives in our elections for public office."

Oscar Blog

We also have a blog dedicated to examining and explaining the innovative voting systems used by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) to nominate and select winners of the prestigious Academy Awards. For more than half a century, AMPAS has used the choice voting method of proportional voting to nominate candidates in all award categories. Since 2009, the Academy has used instant runoff voting to determine the winner of the coveted Best Picture award.

Read on to find out more about these systems and what they mean for Oscar voting! View the blog here: http://oscarvotes123.blogspot.com/

Roberts_Rules_1st.jpgRobert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR), the well-known guide to fair parliamentary procedures, makes the point that an election by a mere plurality may produce an unrepresentative result. It recommends voting methods that can determine a majority winner when electing offices.

At conventions of private organizations, etc., where the electors can cast repeated ballots, RONR prefers a system that allows open ended repeat balloting (with no eliminations) to finally elect a majority winner. Such a system may be time consuming but can allow a compromise candidate to emerge after a number of ballots.

However, in elections where open-ended re-voting is not practical, such as in elections by mail (or governmental elections), ranked choice voting (called "preferential voting" in RONR) is the recommended procedure. In the section detailing the procedure for conducting an ranked choice election RONR states that "It makes possible a more representative result than under a rule that a plurality shall elect."

The full text is below. (Again, note that the term "preferential voting" is another one for ranked choice voting). It is from:

Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised
In Chapter XIII §45. 11th edition, 2011, p. 425-28
(Used with permission from The Robert's Rules Association,www.robertsrules.com)

Full text of "preferential voting" subsection of Section 45 of Robert's Rules of Order


Preferential Voting: The term preferential voting refers to any of a number of voting methods by which, on a single ballot when there are more than two possible choices, the second or less-preferred choices of voters can be taken into account if no candidate or proposition attains a majority. While it is more complicated than other methods of voting in common use and is not a substitute for the normal procedure of repeated balloting until a majority is obtained, preferential voting is especially useful and fair in an election by mail if it is impractical to take more than one ballot. In such cases it makes possible a more representative result than under a rule that a plurality shall elect. It can be used with respect to the election of officers only if expressly authorized in the bylaws.

Preferential voting has many variations. One method is described here by way of illustration. On the preferential ballot—for each office to be filled or multiple-choice question to be decided—the voter is asked to indicate the order in which he prefers all the candidates or propositions, placing the numeral 1 beside his first preference, the numeral 2 beside his second preference, and so on for every possible choice. In counting the votes for a given office or question, the ballots are arranged in piles according to the indicated first preferences—one pile for each candidate or proposition. The number of ballots in each pile is then recorded for the tellers’ report. These piles remain identified with the names of the same candidates or propositions throughout the counting procedure until all but one are eliminated as described below. If more than half of the ballots show one candidate or proposition indicated as first choice, that choice has a majority in the ordinary sense and the candidate is elected or the proposition is decided upon. But if there is no such majority, candidates or propositions are eliminated one by one, beginning with the least popular, until one prevails, as follows: The ballots in the thinnest pile—that is, those containing the name designated as first choice by the fewest number of voters—are redistributed into the other piles according to the names marked as second choice on these ballots. The number of ballots in each remaining pile after this distribution is again recorded. If more than half of the ballots are now in one pile, that candidate or proposition is elected or decided upon. If not, the next least popular candidate or proposition is similarly eliminated, by taking the thinnest remaining pile and redistributing its ballots according to their second choices into the other piles, except that, if the name eliminated in the last distribution is indicated as second choice on a ballot, that ballot is placed according to its third choice. Again the number of ballots in each existing pile is recorded, and, if necessary, the process is repeated—by redistributing each time the ballots in the thinnest remaining pile, according to the marked second choice or most-preferred choice among those not yet eliminated—until one pile contains more than half of the ballots, the result being thereby determined. The tellers’ report consists of a table listing all candidates or propositions, with the number of ballots that were in each pile after each successive distribution.

If a ballot having one or more names not marked with any numeral comes up for placement at any stage of the counting and all of its marked names have been eliminated, it should not be placed in any pile, but should be set aside. If at any point two or more candidates or propositions are tied for the least popular position, the ballots in their piles are redistributed in a single step, all of the tied names being treated as eliminated. In the event of a tie in the winning position—which would imply that the elimination process is continued until the ballots are reduced to two or more equal piles—the election should be resolved in favor of the candidate or proposition that was strongest in terms of first choices (by referring to the record of the first distribution).

If more than one person is to be elected to the same type of office—for example, if three members of a board are to be chosen—the voters can indicate their order of preference among the names in a single fist of candidates, just as if only one was to be elected. The counting procedure is the same as described above, except that it is continued until all but the necessary number of candidates have been eliminated (that is, in the example, all but three).

When this or any other system of preferential voting is to be used, the voting and counting procedure must be precisely established in advance and should be prescribed in detail. The members must be thoroughly instructed as to how to mark the ballot, and should have sufficient understanding of the counting process to enable them to have confidence in the method. Sometimes, for instance, voters decline to indicate a second or other choice, mistakenly believing that such a course increases the chances of their first choice. In fact, it may prevent any candidate from receiving a majority and require the voting to be repeated. The persons selected as tellers must perform their work with particular care.

The system of preferential voting just described should not be used in cases where it is possible to follow the normal procedure of repeated balloting until one candidate or proposition attains a majority. Although this type of preferential ballot is preferable to an election by plurality, it affords less freedom of choice than repeated balloting, because it denies voters the opportunity of basing their second or lesser choices on the results of earlier ballots, and because the candidate or proposition in last place is automatically eliminated and may thus be prevented from becoming a compromise choice. 

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