Tuft’s IRV Election
Last week, Tufts University held their annual election for president of their student government, and like every year, Tufts used Instant Runoff Voting. Colleges across the US have been at the forefront of adopting IRV in the US and have provided great demonstrations of its success on a small scale. Half of the Ivy Leagues — Harvard, Princeton, Darmoth, and Cornell — already use IRV, and a recent op-ed in the Columbia University newspaper argues for its adoption there as well. IRV was actually invented down the road at MIT in the year 1870 and is naturally used for student government elections there too.
After the first round of counting in the Tufts election, no candidate mustered a majority of support. The leading candidate, Duncan Pickard, garnered 42% of the first-choice ballots, followed by C.J Mourning with 32% and Elton Sykes with 24%. Our current plurality system would have been satisfied with electing a candidate who demonstrates only a minority of support, but fortunately IRV does not. After all, with plurality how would we know if Sykes spoiled the election for Mourning? With instant runoff, Sykes was eliminated in the first round, and Pickard prevailed over Mourning in the second round, 56% to 44%.
College students around the nation are increasingly becoming accustomed to preferential ballots, which bodes well for the future of IRV in the U.S.
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