Instant-runoff Voting: How do ASBSU elections work?

Photo courtesy of Tara Winstead

Elections for elected positions within the Associated Students of Boise State University (ASBSU) will be held March 15-16. 

ASBSU uses an instant-runoff voting (IRV) system for its spring elections, which can differ from the format many are accustomed to.

IRV, also known as ranked-choice voting, is a voting system in which instead of selecting one candidate for elected office, otherwise known as plurality voting, candidates are ranked by order of the voter’s preference.

If a candidate receives at least 50% of the first placement votes, they win the election. However, if no candidate receives this, the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated. Those who picked this candidate for their first choice then have their votes reallocated to their second choice. This continues until a candidate passes the 50% voter threshold.

According to FairVote, an electoral reform organization, the main appeal to IRV/RCV is that it allows for the election of candidates with more broad appeal and eliminates the spoiler effect.

The spoiler effect is most often seen with plurality voting, where two candidates with similar platforms inadvertently split their voter base, allowing the opposing candidate to win.

The ASBSU elections are held online. According to the ASBSU constitution, however, ASBSU may also provide polling locations. This year, there is no indication if ASBSU will be providing polling locations. Results are then “announced by noon on the day following elections.” The votes are certified by the ASBSU president, elections manager and ethics officer.

If a tie between candidates occurs, an hour-long meeting is held between the candidates, the elections manager and an advisor. The meeting’s goal is to determine whether or not a 24-hour runoff election will be administered among the student body. If a runoff election results in another tie, then the elections manager will conduct a coin toss to determine the winner.

The Associate Vice President of Inclusive Excellence goes through a unique process before the aforementioned voting process.

The ASBSU constitution states that potential candidates go through a slating, a selection of a group of candidates running on a common platform, in order to ensure that the candidates “are equipped with the cultural competency and cultural humility skills and knowledge of historical and systemic forms of oppression that affect our institution.”

The 2022 ASBSU Elections will start on March 15 at 12:01 am and end on March 16 at 11:59 p.m. Results will be announced the following day, March 17, via a mass email to the student body. For more information regarding elections, visit the ASBSU election website:

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