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California Aggie

Greens stump to amend ASUCD voting
By Ryan P. Fuller 
November 22, 2002 

In the wake of this fall's ASUCD elections, members of the UC Davis Green Party have begun collecting signatures for an initiative that would amend the ASUCD Constitution by implementing instant runoff systems and proportional representation.

The Choice Voting Amendment, authored by Sonny Mohammedzahed and Chris Jerdonek, would enact two changes to the current election system.

"We are trying to instill a voting system that gives the voter more power and has a greater reach," Mohammedzahed said. "A lot of math studies have shown that plurality voting doesn't represent the voters accurately."

Instead of bulleting the choices, voters would be asked to rank candidates in order of their preference.

Kris Fricke, fall 2002 ASUCD Senate candidate and signature collector for the Choice Voting Amendment, said that the change would prevent runoff elections by simulating what would have happened if one were to occur.

The change would save costs and keep voters interested in the election, Fricke said.

Mohammedzahed said that the change would increase turnout in ASUCD elections because voters would feel like their votes count more.

Stanford University, UC Berkeley and Harvard University, which already use instant runoff voting, are set up somewhat differently than ASUCD's government but have about the same number of senators who vote on policies that affect the lives of students.

In winter 2002, candidates from the Student Focus and Leadership, Empowerment, Activism and Determination tickets faced one another in a runoff election, which elicited about 240 fewer votes than the regular election.

ASUCD reported that the cost for holding an election is roughly $4,000; the cost of holding a runoff election can run anywhere from $300 to $500, which includes publishing advertisements in The California Aggie, paying for poll workers and posting additional flyers.

The second component of the initiative would staff the senate according to the proportion of the vote that a ticket garners.

If the initiative collects the necessary 1,500 signatures, it will be put to a vote in the ASUCD winter 2003 election.

Fricke said that, so far, he thinks students want to see this initiative on the ballot.

"There are a good number of students who are interested in seeing this system change," Fricke said.

Similarly, Mohammedzahed said that students have shown interest in the change.

"There have been a lot of good responses from students, particularly in the political science department," he said.

If the initiative passes, it will go into effect beginning with the ASUCD fall 2003 election.

The attempt to amend the ASUCD Constitution is part of a broader movement within California, Mohammedzahed said.

He noted that many European and Latin American countries use proportional representation and instant runoff voting systems.

"The strength of the democracy is its citizens," Mohammedzahed said. "I would like to see this spark a revolution in state and national elections."

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