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The UCSD Guardian


Editorial Runoff voting system would improve UCSD
January 16, 2003 

At the Jan. 8 meeting of the A.S. Council, the council voted 14-1 to create an ad hoc committee to review current voting procedures for A.S. elections while exploring other methods that could possibly improve the elections process.

One type of voting system that has been discussed by councilmembers is the implementation of an instant runoff system. In an election conducted with the instant runoff system, voters rank the candidates in order of preference. If one candidate receives a majority of the votes cast in his favor, he or she wins the election. If a majority is not reached initially, the least-voted-for candidate is eliminated from contention and his or her voters have their votes changed to the candidate who is preferred next. This process is repeated until one candidate garners 50 percent of the popular vote.

The instant runoff voting system allows voters to cast their choice for an ideal candidate while being assured that their vote will count when it matters most. A national campaign to implement instant runoff has been led by the Green Party -- an organization that has drawn fire from Democratic loyalists who feel that the party has weakened the American left by tapping into the liberal voter pool, thereby weakening their overall chance at electing a liberal candidate. Greens contend that if there had been an instant runoff intact during the 2000 presidential election, Ralph Nader would not have been blamed for former Vice President Al Gore's loss of Florida's crucial electoral votes.

Critics of the system cite that converting to the new format would be too costly and too confusing. At the campus level, converting to instant runoff would only require an alteration in computer code considering all A.S. elections are conducted via StudentLink. The instant runoff system is no more confusing than choosing another ice cream flavor upon learning that the store is out of rocky road.

The Guardian believes that a candidate should only be elected if he or she is preferred by the majority of the voters, and that the A.S. Council has taken a progressive step toward ensuring that future elections are conducted efficiently by initiating such a study.

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