History & Usage of RCV

What is the History of Ranked Choice Voting?


Ranked choice voting (RCV) was first developed in the 1850s, by Carl Andræ in Denmark and independently by Thomas Hare in England. It has since been used in many jurisdictions around the world, including in Australian parliamentary elections since 1919. It is known by several names, including instant-runoff voting, the alternative vote, and preferential voting.

Modern Use

In the United States, RCV is used throughout Maine and Alaska, at local option in cities in Utah, Colorado and Virginia, and in multiple other U.S. cities. It was approved and will soon be implemented in additional U.S. cities. It is also used in countries around the world. In 2020, it was used in five states for the Democratic presidential primary. It is used by various state Republican and Democratic party organizations for their internal elections.

To learn more, visit Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center and FairVote.org.


Who in Texas uses Ranked Choice voting?

In Texas, multiple universities and organizations use Ranked Choice Voting today.

Texas Universities

Texas Universities and Colleges

Each year over 160,000+ students and university faculty members across Texas use RCV to select student government and faculty council representatives, including:

Texas A&M University 

In 2013 the Student Government Association (SGA) at Texas A&M University made the decision to institute RCV. Since that time, the Texas A&M SGA has used RCV to fill open positions in all of its single-seat elections, such as the SGA President. As the largest university in Texas with over 64,000 students and counting, Texas A&M is primed to continue to be a leader in introducing RCV to future generations of students and Texans.

University of Texas at Austin

In an effort to eliminate runoffs, reduce drama and negativity, and improve the accuracy of their elections, UT-Austin’s Student Government approved the switch to ranked choice voting in 2018. RCV was used for the first time in 2019. As currently approved, RCV at UT-Austin is used by the campus’ 50,000+ student body to decide both single and multi-seat elections for Student Government. In addition to Student Government elections, UT-Austin’s General Faculty Council also uses a form of RCV to select council members. With the adoption of RCV across multiple campus institutions, UT-Austin offers an opportunity to introduce thousands to the benefits of RCV.   

University of Houston

Founded in 1927, the University of Houston has grown into the third largest university in Texas with over 45,000 students. Similar to other large Texas universities, the Student Government at the University of Houston recently approved ranked choice voting to be used in single and multi-seat races. RCV was recently used to select the 2019 Student Government Association President and Vice President.

Rice University

Located in Houston, Rice University uses RCV for a majority of its Student Association (SA) single-seat elections. The offices elected through RCV include the SA president, vice-presidents, treasurer, and secretary. Rice also uses RCV to elect each of the 11 student college presidents, making sure that each student and college is represented. With plenty of opportunities to get involved and a student body of over 6,000 students, Rice sees a large number of students seeking office.

Texas Political Organizations

In their 2019-2020 party rulebook, the Texas State Democratic Party allows for county or senate districts to choose to use instant runoff voting in their conventions for the selection of party officers and delegates. As currently approved, districts that choose to use instant runoff voting are to notify the State Chair. Written ballots are then provided by the State Party that provide instructions on the voting process and the ability to rank the first three candidates.