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