Tabulation method would eliminate the need for second elections
Published January 26th 2003
The Green Party at UC Davis has proposed the Choice Voting
Amendment for this February's student ballot, ushering in a more
flexible, efficient and democratic system of electing campus
Under the current system of runoff voting, a first election is held for
student-body President. If no candidate receives a majority of the
votes, a costly and exhausting second runoff election is held a week
later so that a clear majority can be determined. This prolonged ritual
is a uneccessary hassle for students, faculty and candidates.
To solve this dilemma, the Choice Voting Amendment would establish instant runoff voting. This is the same runoff system as the current system except for one major difference: The voters can indicate their runoff choices all at once, thus bypassing the second election altogether.

Instant runoff voting has the added advantage of solving 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 Nader as their first choice and Gore as their second choice. During
the runoff, Nader's votes would have been immediately retabulated
and forwarded to Gore.
Another advantage of IRV is that it discourages mud-slinging -- an
aspect of politics that turns off voters and decreases overall voter
turnout.  With instant runoff voting, candidates have incentive to court
the supporters or other candidates, asking for their second or third
rankings.  Successful candidates usually win by building coalitions, not
by tearing down their opponents.

The Choice Voting Amendment also would institute a system knownas "Proportional Representation" or PR for the student senate. In the current senatorial elections, six people get elected in a winner-take-all system. This means that it is possible for the student government to get elected by only a fraction of the voters. This also means that large portions of the student voice could go unheard -- a dilemma that has occured in 2 of the last 4 campus elections.

With proportional representation, 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 automatically forwarded to each voter's next favorite choice. This process continues until every vote has been distributed to saturation. Thus, all students will be represented proportionately to the votes they have casted.

Keep in mind that the ideas and concepts spelled out in the Choice Voting Amendment are nothing new or esoteric to democracy. Both Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation are used in student governments at UC Berkeley, MIT, Stanford, Harvard and Princeton. In addition, both practices have long been used at all levels of government in such countries as Austrailia, Germany and Ireland.
With a little luck, the Green Party at UCD can help bring this fair and
representative system of voting to college students here in Davis. For
more information about this proposal, check out