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UC San Diego Adopts Instant Runoff Voting

Measure is passed 17-2-3 in Associated Students vote

March 26, 2003

Contact: Max Harrington, Voting Task Force Chair

            Daniel Watts, Voting Task Force Vice-Chair


La Jolla, CA The Associated Students (AS) government of UC San Diego voted overwhelmingly at their meeting on March 12 to adopt instant runoff voting (IRV) for AS elections.  The decision was made after hearing a presentation by the Voting Systems Task Force, which had unanimously recommended IRV over nine other voting systems.


Max Harrington, a freshman majoring in Urban Studies, was the chair of the task force and is a senator from Eleanor Roosevelt College.  After thoroughly debating the ten different voting systems and after conducting a mock election to gauge student reaction to our four top choices, the Voting Task Force decided that IRV was the best option available.  The AS heeded our call, and Im proud to say that UCSD has now joined in a growing movement which is seeking to re-democratize our country.


Under the IRV voting system, voters rank the candidates in order of preference.  The votes for campus-wide positions such as President, the Vice-Presidents, and the Commissioners are then tabulated in a way that guarantees that the winner has the broadest base of support by ensuring that he or she wins with a true majority (50% plus one vote or more).


Georgia Kellogg, an Eleanor Roosevelt College freshman, was an At-Large member of the task force, which included an AS senator from all six UCSD colleges as well as four at-large members from the general student body.  IRVĶ[is] a step in the right direction for increasing voter turnout.  In our surveys students reported that they felt better represented by IRV than by plurality and some students who havent voted in past elections even said they would vote in future elections if IRV were implemented.


The task force senators now plan to introduce legislation in all six college councils, which would implement IRV for college-based elections in addition to all-campus elections (which was already approved by AS).  The Instant Runoff Voting measure had been supported across the political spectrum on-campus; both the California Review, a conservative student newspaper, and the UCSD Guardian, the main student paper, had editorialized in support of IRV.  The measure was also officially endorsed by the UCSD Campus Greens, the College Democrats, and the College Republicans.


Mike Schoeck, Sixth College Freshman Senator, was also a member of the task force.  I think that Instant Runoff Voting is the financially responsible choice since it corrects the problems of runoffs in one system, promotes maximized voter choice and better ensures majority rule.


The successful effort at UC San Diego is indicative of the voting-reform movements growing accomplishments and visibility.  A ballot initiative to implement IRV at UC Davis was passed with 67% of students voting in support in mid-February.  Similar electoral systems are already used at UC Berkeley, Stanford, and Cal Tech, as well as many other universities across the country.  Growing interest in voting reform has been seen among cities, counties, and states as well; San Francisco became the largest city in the US to adopt IRV with a successful initiative last November, and California is one of several states currently considering bills to either implement IRV at the state-wide level or allow local general-law municipalities to adopt an alternative voting system on their own.

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The Center for Voting and Democracy
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(301) 270-4616        [email protected]