New voting system eliminates runoffs at SFCC

By Katie Sanders
Published March 26th 2008 in The Independent Florida Alligator
The results from SFCC's Student Government elections will be determined tonight, but one decision is set in stone: There will be no runoff election.

SFCC, in executive board elections held Tuesday and today, began a new voting system that eliminates the need for expensive runoff elections by automatically determining who the winner will be with online votes.

A runoff, or second election, occurs when a first election yields no clear front-runner.

With the college's new method, students are not limited to voting for just one choice. Instead, they rank the candidates by preference.

If a single candidate earns more than 50 percent of the first-choice votes, there is no need for the system to revert to the alternative method.

However, if no candidate earns a majority, the candidates who received the most first-choice votes will receive those votes and votes from people who designated them as second-choice, assuming those voters' first-choice candidates did not make the final runoff.

Dan Rodkin, SFCC's SG adviser, said it is not unusual for multiple-party elections to trigger a runoff, but these elections, often held a week later, cost an additional $3,000.

"It think it saves everyone resources and time, and I think that's an important advantage," Rodkin said.

He said the idea for the new system arose during a May brainstorming session following a four-party SG race and subsequent runoff.

Averial McKenzie, SFCC elections chairman, said instant runoff voting was approved in May by SFCC student senators and was implemented and tested over the year by SFCC's executive branch. Students are not obligated to mark second and third choices on the ballots, McKenzie added.

Sarah Krantz, UF's supervisor of elections, said she is satisfied with UF's voting process and said she disagrees with SFCC's method because she wants "a fair election."

"We want to make sure it's more than 50 percent of the people's first choice," Krantz said of an SG winner's vote tally.