Instant runoff system could distort Yell Leader results
Published: Friday, February 22, 2013
Updated: Friday, February 22, 2013 02:02
A change in the voting process of student body elections could jeopardize results in multi-candidate positions.
The election commission changed to an instant runoff system for 2013, eliminating the need for secondary runoffs but preventing student ballots from counting for more than one candidate in elections such as senior yell, for which three candidates are selected.
According to the instant runoff system, ballots are processed in rounds. The candidate with the least number of votes, which are assigned to the candidate with the highest preference on a single ballot, is eliminated after a round. In the next round, any votes for an eliminated candidate are reassigned to the next most preferred candidate. Each round every ballot is counted again as a vote for the highest ranked candidate who has not been eliminated. Rounds continue until the number of candidates remaining equals the number of open positions.
The instant runoff system prevents a student from voting for more than one yell leader at a time. A student can only vote for one candidate each round because every ballot is counted as a vote for only one candidate per round. This presents problems in an election that elects two candidates for junior yell or three for senior yell. Thus, no individual student’s vote could be conceivably counted for three candidates on one ballot.
“The possibility certainly exists that the voting process could potentially misrepresent the opinion of the student body and warrants further investigation,” said Drew Alders, public relations officer for the Corps of Cadets.
Senior Yell Leader Drew Nelson said the system takes away the student body’s right to vote and students are being misled.
“Last year, students were given three votes for senior yell, so [this year] the vote for your number two choice is basically eliminated,” Nelson said. “It’s only fair if the top three votes count the same.”
If a candidate is ranked in the top three in a majority of ballots, he or she is not guaranteed election.
“The system is not fair,” Nelson said. “It needs to be rectified.”
The online ballot question prompts each voter to select candidates in order of preference, giving no further direction or explanation of the process by which ballots are counted, while the election website does give an explanation.
Election results are expected to be announced Friday at 8:30 p.m. after voting closes.
Election Commissioner Allison Krenzien could not immediately be reached for comment.
The previous system involved selecting the total candidates each voter wished to elect to the position. Every selection counted as an equal vote. If no candidate received the required majority, a separate runoff was held, as was the case in the 2012 student body president election.
The Election Finance Disqualification Act — passed unanimously in Student Senate and signed by Student Body President John Claybrook — made changes to the Election Regulations, establishing the instant runoff system.