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UC Davis California Aggie

February 21, 2003

Students approved the Choice Voting Amendment by an overwhelming majority this week, giving the go-ahead for an overhaul of ASUCD's current elections procedures. After announcing the total of 4,029 votes - slightly lower than last year's 18.6 percent voter turnout - Elections Committee Chair Katie

Barbero announced that the CVA passed, falling one vote shy of a two-to-one margin; 2,005 students voted in favor and 1,003 students voted against the ballot reform measure, which will establish a ranking system for candidates in future elections.

For presidential elections, Instant Runoff Voting will be implemented - a ranking system that eliminates tiebreakers in executive elections.

On a day when the Student Focus slate took the presidency and boasted the top five vote-getters for ASUCD Senate, CVA author Sonny Mohammadzadeh said his amendment would temper such "lopsided" results.

"Student Focus took five of the six senate seats," he said. "That's 83 percent of the seats. I don't think 83 percent of the campus rated Student Focus that highly."

Under the Choice Voting system, voters rank candidates in order of preference rather than simply selecting a handful, as under the current system.

Mohammadzadeh said he hoped another result of the CVA would be that, since candidates have to be ranked highly in order to win, they would choose to run issue-based - rather than slate-based - campaigns.

ASUCD Vice President-elect Kalen Gallagher expressed some concern that what he called "definitely a more complicated system" would discourage voting.

"Without making some educational outreach efforts, this [system] could lead to a really confusing election, and drive turnout lower," he said.

The total of 4,029 votes is less than half the number cast in the fall 2002 election. The presidential election usually drives winter voter turnout higher than fall's, but this election's 18.2 percent turnout pales in comparison to the 38.7 percent fall 2002 turnout, due in no small part to the Campus Expansion Initiative that was on the fall ballot.

The CEI passed relatively easily in fall, like the CVA. LeVale Simpson, the lone victorious candidate from the Leadership, Empowerment, Activism and Determination slate, said that he looked forward to the results of the voting procedure changes.

"I don't think people should have any trouble understanding [the system]," Simpson said. "I think it will really help diversify the senate, and it should give independents a better chance."

Independent candidates have rarely fared well in senate elections. Lindsay Crawford won a seat at the senate table without a major slate affiliation in fall 2001, but since then, no independents have been elected.

Mohammadzadeh was one of four independents who ran this year, but none were elected.

"This will be a turning point in UCD elections," Mohammadzadeh said. "In the long run it will be a good thing for the senate and the presidency."
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