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California Aggie


Petition for new campus election methods finished
By Angela Pang
December 06, 2002

To increase student representation and voter turnout in the ASUCD elections, the Green Party at UC Davis submitted a petition on Monday to amend the ASUCD Constitution and implement instant runoff voting and proportional representation.

Sophomore Kris Fricke, a signature collector, said that in the two-week signature collecting period, 25 volunteers collected approximately 2,000 signatures -- "well above the margin" of the required 1,500.

Once 1,500 signatures are verified by the ASUCD Elections Committee, the initiative will be placed on the next ASUCD ballot in February for students to vote on.

The amendment proposes choice voting for ASUCD presidential and senate elections.

Under the Choice Voting Amendment, voters will rank the candidates they support in order of preference, instead of just bulleting them as the current process calls for. The extra information allows for a more efficient, more representative election said Sonny Mohammadzadeh, campaign coordinator and official author of the amendment.

In choice voting, the voters rank the candidates they support in order of their preference: 1, 2, 3 and so on.

In the election of a single individual, like a president, choice voting is called instant runoff voting.

In an IRV election for president, voters rank as many candidates as they want by preference. After the election, all the No. 1 votes are tallied and if a candidate receives a majority of the votes, he or she becomes president.

But, if no candidate receives a majority, students will not need to revote in a runoff election. The computer would then automatically eliminate the candidate with the least amount of No. 1 votes. If a voter’Äôs top choice is eliminated, then their next preference will act as their No. 1 choice in the second round. This procedure is repeated until one candidate receives a majority of No.1 votes.

The current ASUCD election codes dictate that if no presidential candidate takes a majority of the vote, the two top candidates face off in a runoff in the following week.

"With IRV, students need to only vote once in a single, decisive election," said Mohammadzadeh.

Graduate student Chris Jerdonek said choice voting would make students feel better about voting for independent candidates or those on smaller slates.

"IRV eliminates the spoiler dilemma by allowing the voter the freedom to vote for the candidate of their choice without the fear that their vote might help a candidate they oppose," said Jerdonek.

In a senate election in which six seats are available at a time, choice voting is called "proportional representation" and is designed to elect a senate that represents a cross-section of all votes. As in the presidential elections, students will rank as many candidates as they wish by preference.

In a senate election, if any candidate receives one-sixth of the total first-place votes, he or she is automatically elected.

When a candidate receives more than one-sixth of the votes, the balance is redistributed proportionally to the voter's second choice. For example, in an election with 600 votes, 100 are necessary to obtain a seat. If Candidate A gets 150 No. 1 votes, then the extra 50 votes must be redistributed among the other candidates. If 75 of the 150 voters that listed Candidate A as their first choice listed Candidate B as their second choice, Candidate B would receive half -- or 25 -- of the extra 50 votes.

If none of the candidates have one-sixth of the No. 1 votes, then the same system used to determine a presidential winner would be used. The excess votes, again, would be redistributed. This process would repeat until all six seats are filled.

Computers would be used to complete the computation.

Currently in the ASUCD election system, the top six vote-getters are automatically elected.

"The current system fails to represent voters because the winner-take-all system makes it possible for a small fraction of voters to elect all six senators," Jerdonek said.

He cited the winter 2001 election, when the Leadership, Empowerment, Activism, Determination slate won all six seats, yet had 45 percent voter support.

"Candidates will have to focus more on the issues than party lines," said Mohammadzadeh.

Fricke echoed Mohammadzadeh's sentiments, saying that he believes the Choice Voting Amendment will allow independent candidates a fair shot, as voters will not be forced to focus on the main party slates.

Additional information on the Choice Voting Amendment can be found at the Green Party at UC Davis's website at

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