UC-Irvine New University
Choice Voting May Improve
By Sriba Kwadjovie
April 21, 2003
At this time of the year, students at a number of
colleges and universities across the nation are taking part in
student government elections.
According to many concerned
students, the biggest problem with the elections process lies in the
fact that many UCI students just do not vote.
flurry of activity that was seen during elections week, student
turn-out at UCI has always been low.
According to ASUCI
president Jeff Minhas, a fourth-year political science major, voter
turn-out was dismally low when he ran for president last year.
’ÄúWhen I ran for president last year, the results showed only
about a 22 percent student voter turn-out,’Äù Minhas said. Low voter
turn-out is not only a problem facing UCI, but has also been an
issue for colleges across the country.
The general attitude
of many students as to why they do not involve themselves in
college- level politics may best be summed up by fourth-year
political science major Michael Nguyen, who stated, ’ÄúI’Äôm just not
interested. I do not feel that there is enough information about the
candidates and only a certain group of people really know the
UCI as well as most universities currently
apply a traditional voting system, wherein students go to select
voting sites to vote.
However, others argue that the current
system is ineffective because it only reflects the views of the
minority of the student population.
As a result, this
creates student apathy and discourages students from voting and
participating in the elections process.
These were the exact
thoughts and feelings of students that inspired a recent graduate of
the University of Iowa and current student outreach coordinator at
the Center for Voting and Democracy, John Russell, to write an
article entitled ’ÄúVoter Apathy or Political Reality.’Äù
article, he discusses why students fail to participate in student
government elections and a possible solution to this problem.
’ÄúAt many colleges, whoever wins the majority of the votes,
wins the entire election,’Äù Russell said. ’ÄúThis does not allow for
any representation for the students who voted for a candidate that
lost, leaving many students feeling they have no voice and
therefore, lose any incentive to vote in any student government
To combat these realities, members of
the Center for Voting and Democracy created an alternative system to
democratic voting for student government, known as choice voting.
Choice voting is a new system that promotes a diverse
election result, according to Russell, wherein students are asked to
vote and rank candidates according to their preference.
This, in turn, allows all students’Äô voices and stances to be
heard rather than just the majority.
He explained that by
indicating their preference, all voters are assured their votes will
count and that at least one of their preferred candidates will be
given a position.
’ÄúWhoever receives the majority of the
votes will still receive the majority of the seats, but not all of
them. The remaining seats will be given to the other candidates who
ranked second, third, fourth, etc. It works to increase the
representation of a student who may have no voice otherwise,’Äù
Universities such as UC Davis, Harvard,
University of Illinois, Carleton College and Vassar college have all
adopted this system of voting.
Still, Russell says that the
drawback to choice voting is in the aftermath.
complexities of the process means a lot more counting and organizing
when all the votes are tabulated.
Regardless of the type of
voting system implemented at UCI, fourth-year psychology and
anthropology major Yesenia Ortiz believes that voting is something
all students should care about.
’ÄúVoting is important because
the students who are elected into government positions are able to
determine campus life and the interests of all student body, how our
tuition money is distributed and how it serves to run the
university,’Äù Ortiz said.