In the fight for ranked choice voting (RCV), college and university campuses are a great place to get the conversation started. Implementing ranked choice voting in on-campus elections can teach students how to properly cast informed ballots and, by extension, boost civic engagement. As the advocacy intern at FairVote, one of my major projects is persuading student leaders on college campuses in Michigan to make the switch to ranked choice voting for student body elections.
Over eighty colleges and universities already use ranked choice voting for their on-campus elections. They have seen great results including improved turnout in on-campus elections and outcomes that better reflect students preferences. Ranked choice voting is on the rise in Michigan generally after Ann Arbor recently voted "yes" to implement ranked choice voting for future city elections. In the coming cycles, we hope to see more of Michigan's many charter cities, such as Kalamazoo, Allendale Charter Township, and Detroit, vote to implement ranked choice voting too.
So, how do we get these college and university campuses to make the switch to RCV? I’m focusing on campuses that have a system of student representation, whether that be a central student government or a student senate. The individuals who would be in charge of spearheading this project on their campus are often part of the executive cabinets of each government. I have been meeting with members of these executive cabinets, as well as talking to students who are likely to run for student government offices in their next election cycle.
Across Michigan, campuses are facing big issues such as low election participation and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. Ranked choice voting could help campuses to improve in these areas. Implementing RCV will also leave students better equipped to adapt to this improved method of voting when casting their ballot in off-campus elections.