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New ranked voting system implemented for ASCSU elections

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Collegian | Hannah Parcells
Collegian File Illustration

For this year’s Associated Students of Colorado State University elections, there will be a new system implemented: ranked choice voting. This new system will only be applied to the presidential and vice presidential elections. Due to the lack of competitiveness for senate elections and complications for the online system, senate positions — including the speaker of the senate — will be elected using the regular majority system.

Rather than voting for one choice of candidate, voters can now allocate a ranking to each candidate. The ranked choice system is one that has not been nationally implemented but has seen growth in municipalities and was approved in 2022 for use in City of Fort Collins elections beginning in 2025. 

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“If nobody gets a majority or over 50% in the first count, then all of the votes for the last place candidate would then be redistributed with their other rankings back to the other candidates that are still there,” said Kaitlyn Spencer, ASCSU elections manager. “Then they can figure out who gets 50% or who gets that majority. And then once they figure that out, that is the winner.”

The system of ranked choice voting has been in the works at CSU for a while.

“Ranked choice voting has been something we’ve been trying to implement in student body voting for quite a few years,” said Jamie Binder, deputy chief justice for the ASCSU Supreme Court. “I’m really proud of our current elections manager for getting the ball rolling on that.”

The decision for ranked choice voting was made to help student voters in their confidence in their choice of candidates. 

“It’s important to have ranked choice voting because it’s — for lack of a better term — it feels like a more equitable election versus just having to pick one of the three potential candidates,” Spencer said. “You’re able to allot them a ranking, which allows you to make a connection with each of the candidate campaigns, and that allows you to interact with each of the campaigns openly and freely.”

The new system will allow students’ votes to count more because even if their top candidate does not win, their secondary choices will still be applied to the votes. 

“I feel like my vote almost matters more because it’s about the ranking and not just about, like, ‘Oh well, … like, my vote was just thrown away,” Spencer said. “It’s literally not thrown away. It’s literally just recounted.”

Those who use RAMweb to vote will not see major changes with the new ranked choice voting system. The style of voting will now see voters ranking their candidates rather than choosing one. There are also systems in place to prevent accidental voting choices. However, after voters review their choices, their final submission cannot be changed.

Spencer said she hopes the new system will encourage more people to vote and that they can feel like they participate in the elections of their student leaders. Student voter turnout at Colorado State University was 14.49% last year.

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“I think it’ll help because our generation likes to click, and so if we can click multiple things, it’s more engaging and plainly more encouraging for people to vote,” Binder said.

At the end of this year’s elections using the ranked choice voting system, an election committee will draft legislation that provides recommendations to the system and potential changes. The system will then be reevaluated for next year’s elections. 

Reach Tyler Weatherwax at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @twwax7272.

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About the Contributors
Tyler Weatherwax
Tyler Weatherwax, News Editor
Tyler Weatherwax is a second-year attending Colorado State University. He has lived in the state of Colorado for his entire life and grew up just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. He is currently majoring in journalism and media communication and is a news editor for The Collegian and assistant news director for KCSU. Weatherwax hopes to share some of the world with people through his reporting and experiences. His goal as a journalist is to bring information to others in the hopes that it inspires and educates them in their lives. He also tries to push himself into the unknown to cause some discomfort in his life and reporting. Weatherwax has been a DJ for 90.5 FM KCSU as well as 88.3 FM KFFR. Some things Weatherwax enjoys doing are playing bass guitar, reading, collecting records, going outside and spending time with his friends and family. Weatherwax hopes to become a journalist after he graduates and to see more of the world.
Hannah Parcells
Hannah Parcells, News Editor
Hannah Parcells is currently the news editor at The Collegian, a role that she loves dearly. Parcells uses she/her pronouns and began writing for The Collegian in fall 2023 as a reporter under the news, science, opinion and life and culture desks.  Parcells is currently pursuing two degrees: a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a concentration in global politics. Parcells has always been passionate about understanding and helping other people and hopes to use her education to try and leave the world a little better than she found it.  Raised in Castle Rock, Colorado, Parcells grew up with a love of learning, music and writing. She’s always working to learn more about the world through history and art and loves being introduced to new places, people and ideas.  On the off chance that she’s not buried in textbooks, research papers and policy analyses, Hannah can be found on a hike, watching movies or at any local bookstore or coffee shop, feeding her ongoing addictions to both caffeine and good books. Parcells is incredibly proud of the work she’s done at The Collegian so far and is excited to continue that work as an editor of the news desk.

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