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The Mac Weekly

Greens, Democrats support IRV
April 16, 2003
By Andy Haug, Jesse Mortensen and Renee Lepreau

Last Tuesday, MCSG voted 22-0-2 to recommend a constitutional change in the voting system. On April 16, students will vote on whether to change the election procedure for President and other Executive Committee positions to Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).

We currently use a system where the candidate with the highest number of votes wins the office. This is problematic because if more than two candidates run for the office it is likely that a candidate will win without a majority of the votes.

With IRV, voters rank candidates instead of choosing only one. You rank as many candidates as you feel comfortable supporting, giving a "1" to your first choice, a "2" to your second choice and so on. This eliminates the concern about a "spoiler" factor. With IRV, voters are free to support the candidate of their choice, and anyone is free to run for office without worrying that he or she will "split the vote." To the voter, IRV is a very simple process.

The vote tabulation of IRV is where the ranking system becomes important. All first-choice votes are counted and if any candidate has a majority a winner is declared. If there is no clear majority, the candidate receiving the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated and the votes they received are transferred to the second choices marked on the ballots. This process continues; the candidate with the smallest total of votes is eliminated and those ballots are redistributed to the next rankings. When a candidate earns a majority of the votes, that person has won the election.

The advantages of IRV are clear. In fact, both Australia and Carleton College already practice this voting method. IRV helps to better represent the student body by insuring that a candidate must have majority support to win office. See for a more thorough explanation.

Both the MacGreens and the MacDems support this measure. Vote to change the MCSG constitution for IRV on April 16.

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