A new way to vote for ASOSU

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Posted: Monday, November 25, 2013 10:47 pm | Updated: 7:27 pm, Tue Mar 4, 2014.

Potential instant-runoff voting system for elections could solve low voter turnout Vandever said

The Associated Students of Oregon State University have seen a recent disparity between the number of students voting in primary and general elections.

ASOSU Assistant to the Advocate Jacob Vandever believes he has the solution.

According to Vandever, many students whose chosen candidates lose in the primary fail to cast a ballot two weeks later during the general election.

“ASOSU has to do a big push for two different elections, which is kind of a pain because everyone is trying so hard to get everyone out for the primaries, and then they have to do the exact same thing two weeks later,” Vandever said.

One solution Vandever proposed to the ASOSU legislature was reforming the student government voting process.

Currently, the ASOSU by-laws call for a first-past-the-post election. In this system, voters choose only one candidate per ticket and votes are tallied once according to the initial choice of voters.

Within the instant-runoff voting system proposed by Vandever, voters assign candidates a number according to their preferences.

“If no candidate receives a majority of first choices, there shall be a second round of counting,” the bill proposal states. “The last-place candidate shall be eliminated, and all the continuing ballots shall be recounted. Each continuing ballot shall be counted as one vote for that ballot’s highest ranked advancing candidate.”

An “advancing candidate” is a candidate who has not been eliminated, while a “continuing ballot” is a ballot that still contains “advancing candidates.”

The system continues until one candidate has received a majority of the votes.

Voters are not required to rank all the candidates on their ballot, but once their choices have been eliminated, the ballot is considered “exhausted” and can no longer be tallied.

More than 60 American colleges and universities use the alternative voting system, according to the FairVote webpage. FairVote is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reforming democratic elections.

Prestigious institutions such as Harvard College, Columbia University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have all successfully implemented the system.

Galen Loram, former president of the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology, espoused the system on FairVote.org, writing that “the choices do seem to mirror what the students at large wanted.”

A former senator for the Arizona State University Honors College, Collin Phillips, agreed.

“Society would benefit from this increase in debate,” Phillips wrote. “We owe it to our democracy to implement instant runoff voting to help third parties become viable, to help craft policy and to improve society for all.”

If officially sponsored and then passed, the alternative vote bill would change the way in which ASOSU presidents, vice presidents and speakers of the House are elected.

Vandever hopes the bill will move quickly through Congress so that candidates and voters alike may be prepared.

“This (system) makes it so that the other candidates actually have a stake in engaging (the expected victor),” Vandever said. “It really forces candidates to branch out and talk to people they otherwise wouldn’t, instead of getting comfortable within their constituencies.”

Tori Hittner

Student government reporter


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