Engage has the ability to create elections using single vote, multiple choice, and even ranking formats. It will also automatically tabulate votes and determine winners for elections. Run-off voting can be conducted by creating a new election in your Engage community.

Institutions interested in an instant runoff method of result calculation can use Engage to collect votes and then process these externally. It is possible to conduct an instant runoff manually using Engage's ranking question format and the aid of a spreadsheet application, though this approach is not recommended as mistakes could be made by the person or persons manually calculating the results.

Some institutions have utilized a program call OpenSTV to automatically calculate winners in an instant runoff election using data from an election run through Engage. OpenSTV migrated from an open source licensing scheme to a proprietary scheme in 2011. Click here to access the last open source (free) version of the software, hosted on Github. A few notes to understand:

  • First, Campus Labs does not expressly endorse usage of OpenSTV nor have any relationship with the vendor.
  • Note that the free version of OpenSTV may have some limitations, such as the number of votes or voters able to be processed. If the free version does not work for your election but you are still interested in pursuing an instant runoff, you can explore a newer, paid version through the parent company, OpaVote.
  • The basic steps of conducting an IRV election and processing the results in OpenSTV listed below are written specifically for the version of OpenSTV we have linked in this article. If you are using a different version of OpenSTV, note these steps may not be accurate due to the many configuration options available when running an IRV calculation.
  1. Design an election using ballots with the "Ranking" question type for each question that will use the IRV method for tabulation
  2. Execute the election
  3. Download the election results files
  4. Separate each race into it's own spreadsheet file
  5. If necessary, clean any special characters from the results (! @ # $ % ^ ' - , etc.) *
  6. Delete rows 1-3 (File title on row 1, blank row 2, and column headers on row 3)
  7. Delete column A (the Engage Submission ID numbers)
  8. Save the file as a tab-delimited .TXT file (in Excel, select "Text (Tab delimited) (*.txt)")
  9. Run OpenSTV
  10. From "File" select "Run Election"
  11. Enter the appropriate settings for your election/calculation method. Different methods of instant runoff voting specify different thresholds for winning an election (e.g., plurality wins, first to 51% wins, etc.) Be sure you decide on your threshold in advance of processing your files.
  12. Run the election calculations

* Please note that as of version 2.1.0, OpenSTV's text file method of calculating results does not support the inclusion of spaces in Candidate names. You will need to remove them from the Engage ballot files before processing them with OpenSTV.

For more information about Instant Runoff Voting:

Minnesota Public Radio IRV Explainer Video

Wikipedia Article



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