Voices & Choices

Wheaton becomes first college to adopt ranked choice voting in Illinois

Wheaton becomes first college to adopt ranked choice voting in Illinois

Wheaton College is a residential liberal arts college, located 25 miles from Chicago. When its student body heads to the polls next week, Wheaton will become the first college in Illinois to use ranked choice voting to elect its student government.

The ranked choice voting amendment was introduced by sophomore Jessa Potvin, executive vice-president of Educational Policies. Potvin was concerned about the low voter turnout in runoff elections due to students losing interest after the first round. Ranked choice voting (RCV) will create elections that are more voter-friendly, without the need for any expensive and low-turnout runoff elections.

Another concern of Potvin was that their previous voting system resulted in power being concentrated in a small community of the university and thus that community received all the representation. Potvin believes RCV is a “simple and more democratic way to hold elections.”

Ranked choice voting is a system that promotes majority support from the electorate. Students are given the freedom to rank candidates in order of choice – first, second, third, and so on – instead of just picking one. All first choices are counted, and if a candidate has a majority, then they win, just like any other election. If no one has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and those voters have their ballot instantly count for their next choice. This process continues until a candidate receives a majority of votes, and is declared the winner.

At a time that many cities and states are scaling back the voting rights of their citizens, Wheaton joins more than 60 colleges to expand the voice and power of its students, and show the rest of the country that ranked choice voting is the voting system of the future.

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