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New voting system consolidates runoffs

Levels playing field for Yell candidates

Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 01:02

It’s election season on campus and this year the Election Commission adopted a new runoff voting system for student body elections.

The new system, called “Instant Runoff Voting,” will rank candidates from “most preferred” to “least preferred.” To win, a candidate must receive the most “preferred” votes — instead of the two highest, non-majority vote getters going to a runoff.

“We want this new system to be representative of the whole student body,” said Election Commissioner and senior biomedical sciences major Allison Krenzien.

In previous years, students voted for one candidate and then had the opportunity to vote in a runoff if a candidate didn’t receive more than 50 percent of the votes. Last year, more than 14,000 students voted for a student body president. But because the votes were split between five candidates, no one received a majority vote and the race for student body president went to a runoff.

There was also a swing of votes from the first round of voting to the runoff. The winner of the first vote received about 10 percent more votes than the second place candidate, John Claybrook, who won the following runoff.

“One vote and we’re done,” said student senator and sophomore political science major Grace Wood. “It’s going to be easier for everybody and eliminate the need for a runoff.”

A criticism of the old runoff system was that fewer students voted after the original ballots were cast. In last year’s runoff, 9,813 votes were cast — almost 5,000 less than the first round of voting.

Krenzien said the new system was not changed because of last year’s election circumstances.

“For the past few years, the Election Commission has wanted to reform the voting process to make sure every student’s voice is heard and counted, and this year we were able to change the process,” Krenzien said.

Students speculate the new runoff system may not affect the race for student body president this year, because there are only two known candidates, which would make a runoff unnecessary.

“This could change if a third candidate decides to run. In the future, if there are more than two candidates, the new system will be beneficial for everybody,” said student senator Wood.

The election for Yell Leaders will use the same runoff system. Students will cast votes for each individual candidate, instead of having the option of selecting as a group the Corps-endorsed “5 for Yell.” All the candidates for junior Yell Leader will be listed under one tab and all the candidates for senior Yell Leader will be listed under a separate tab.

“It definitely levels the playing field between the Corps and the non-reg candidates,” said junior English major Mallorie Williams. “I think it will benefit the non-Corps Yell Leader candidates the most.”

 

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