Students organize the first ranked choice mock election


By Biong Biong, [email protected]

Justin Hollinrake is a senior majoring in political science. He is currently trying to establish a student organization centered around ranked choice voting advocation. 

Biong Biong

Panelists joined an aspiring student organization to inform students about ranked choice voting Wednesday evening.

The group is called Students 4 a Better Ballot. According to Justin Hollinrake, a senior in political science and president of the group,  the group has a desire to serve and is non-partisan.

“We believe that the entire purpose of doing this is to bring people together,” said Hollinrake. “Our whole goal is to get people to understand how democratic systems and structure affect how people behave.”

Ranked choice voting is a voting system in which voters rank candidates from most favored to least. The election ends when a candidate receives 50 percent or more of the vote. If the threshold is not met, the candidate with the lowest votes is eliminated, and the individuals who had voted for them have their vote reallocated to their next ranked vote. The cycle continues until there is one candidate left.

Matthew Wetstein, an assistant professor in physics and astronomy, was a member of the panel and said ranked choice voting promotes competition, supplies voters with more choices and introduces new ideas.

Wetstein said he worries about the polarization of America.

“If it continues along these lines,” said Wetstein, “we’re not going to have a country anymore in my lifetime– let alone for my children.

Among Wetstein, the panel included:

  • Alex Tuckness, a professor in political science

  • And Stephen Willson, a retired professor in mathematics

The group held a mock election to demonstrate ranked choice voting. The candidates were nominated by various student organizations, with there being a prize for the student organization that nominated the winning candidate. The vote ended in a tie, with the prize being split between the two winning candidates.

The group is affiliated with Better Ballot Iowa, a group that advocates for ranked choice voting across Iowa.

Students 4 a Better Ballot meets at 5 p.m. every Friday in Room 014 in Physics Hall.