Students approve referendums to reformat future SA Senate elections

Media Credit: File Photo by Donna Armstrong

The election was held Wednesday and Thursday on the Engage platform.

Students approved two Student Association special referendums to replace ranked-choice voting for certain SA Senate elections and to divide at-large seats for four schools into separate undergraduate and graduate positions.

About 66 percent of students voted to replace ranked-choice with a plurality system in multi-seat senate elections, and about 86 percent of students voted to create separate undergraduate and graduate seats for the Milken Institute School of Public Health, the School of Nursing, the School of Medicine and Health Sciences and the College of Professional Studies. These changes will go into effect immediately for the coming SA elections this spring and reformat future senate races.

Students voted in the election through the Engage platform from Wednesday morning until Thursday night.

Members of the special elections committee, tasked with monitoring the special election, did not immediately return a request for comment on how many students participated in the election.

Senators set the two referendums in motion in September with two resolutions unanimously approved by the senate. Senators also approved a third referendum at the meeting to ask students to reestablish first-year senate seats, but the Student Court invalidated the referendum last month after determining that it violated the SA’s founding documents.

With plurality voting, students will be able to vote for up to the number of candidates equivalent to the number of seats available for each race.

The SA has been using ranked-choice voting for both single-seat and multi-seat elections. In that system, voters rank their top candidates in order, and the candidate with the least number of first-place votes is eliminated from the race. The remaining candidates then proceed to the next round – eliminating the next candidate with the lowest number of first-place votes – continuing until a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote.

SA Sen. Chris Pino, CCAS-U, the sponsor of the resolution creating the plurality referendum, said earlier this week that the change would reduce confusion about multi-seat elections.

SA Sen. Cordelia Scales, SEAS-U, the sponsor of the resolution establishing the seat division referendum, said earlier this week that the adjustment would ensure undergraduate and graduate constituencies are proportionally represented in the senate.

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