UCD Campus Greens take leading role in upgrading democracyThe Green Party at UC Davis has proposed the Choice Voting Amendment for this Februarys student ballot to change the way UCD students elect their campus representatives.
By Matthew Stewart, Campus Greens, UC Davis
Under the current Runoff Voting system, if no candidate for president receives a majority of the votes, a costly and exhausting second runoff election is held a week later. This prolonged ritual is an unnecessary hassle for students, faculty and candidates. The Choice Voting Amendment would establish Instant Runoff Voting or IRV, in which the voters can indicate the runoff choices all at once, thus bypassing the second election altogether. IRV also solves the so-called spoiler problem. For example, during the 2000 presidential election Ralph Nader was blamed for taking votes away from Al Gore and helping to elect Bush. With IRV, voters would have had the freedom to vote for Nader as their first choice and Gore as their second choice. During the runoff, Naders votes would have been immediately retabulated and forwarded to Gore.
The Choice Voting Amendment would also institute a variant of Proportional Representation or PR for the student senate. In the current senatorial elections, the top six vote-getters are automatically elected. Large portions of the student voice could go unheard, a dilemma that has occurred in two of the last four UCD elections. With PR, every candidate must earn a specific number of votes in order to get elected. Once that threshold has been reached by a candidate, all surplus votes are then redistributed proportionally to each voters next favorite choice. The process continues until every vote has been distributed. Thus, all students will be represented proportionately to the votes they have cast.
Keep in mind that the ideas and concepts spelled out in the Choice Voting Amendment are nothing new or esoteric to American universities. Both Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation have long been used in student governments at UC Berkeley, MIT, Stanford, Harvard and Princeton to ensure a more democratic and representative electorate.
For more information about this proposal, visit www.ucdgreens.org.
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