SA runoff election ballot to include vote on new instant runoff voting system

An amendment to change the way students vote for Student Association president and executive vice president will go before the student body for a vote Wednesday and Thursday during the SA runoff election.

If passed, the amendment would allow the Senate to create an instant runoff voting system for next year’s elections.

The system would prevent SA elections from going to a separate runoff vote by allowing voters to rank multiple candidates running for office according to preference. If no candidate received the required 40 percent of the vote to win, computer software would eliminate the candidate in last place. The last place candidate’s votes would then be distributed to their supporters’ second choice which they marked on their ballots.

“Combining runoff with the general election saves time,” said former SA Sen. Phil Gardner, who ran for SA president on a platform to abolish the SA.

Gardner added that because the events are separate, voter turnout tends to be lower for the runoff.

“[The IRV system] allows more voters to participate in the runoff,” Gardner said. “Turnout drops significantly from the general election to the runoff election under the current system.”

The SA Senate first passed a bill, sponsored by then-Sen. Gardner, in favor of the Instant Runoff Voting system last year, with the stipulation that the student body vote on it during this year’s election. Although it was left off the ballot during the general election earlier this month, Joint Elections Committee Chair Galen Petruso confirmed it will be on the ballot during the runoff.

Petruso said the JEC was not notified of the amendment until the day of the general election.

“[The amendment] will be added to the runoff election [ballot] to be voted on,” Petruso said. “No one from the senate notified us about it until the day of elections.”

Marvin Center Governing Board and Sen. Dylan Pyne, CCAS-U, informed the JEC of the missing amendment on the ballot.

“I was under the expectation that it would be in the ballot, but when I opened up my ballot to vote it was not there.  I felt passionate enough to inform them,” Pyne said, noting that it was most likely a mistake.  “I would not say that [it was forgotten] because of the turnover, but it not being there was in no way malicious.”

Runoff elections will be held March 23 and 24.

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