A.S. shelves instant runoff funds

    Reversing the decision of its predecessor, the A.S. Council voted on Oct. 6 to indefinitely table legislation that would have provided more than $15,000 for the implementation of an instant runoff voting system in student elections.

    In March 2004, last year’s council approved the same allocation without opposition by a vote of 20-0-1.

    However, according to A.S. President Jenn Pae, the Associated Students accounts were automatically cleared at the end of the school year before the money had been dispersed. Without dispersal, the allocation was canceled and the money rolled over into the budget for the current year.

    Once the accounts were cleared, the legislation had to be resubmitted for approval by the current council. Rather than affirm the action of their predecessors, senators voted to indefinitely put off the legislation by a vote of 17-0-1.

    The vote to table the legislation was made despite objection from Pae, who told the council she did not want the system to be forgotten since the two previous councils worked to implement the program.

    The allocation would have included $1,500 for the purchase of tabulation software from an outside company and an additional $13,920 to cover the conversion of the current voting software by Administrative Computing and Telecommunications.

    During a discussion preceding the vote, councilmembers expressed concern about spending so much money on a system that would only affect a small portion of students.

    Only 18 percent of UCSD undergraduate students participate in the elections, according to Thurgood Marshall College Senior Senator Kate Maull.

    “Given the budgetary constraints, we couldn’t, in good conscience, allocate $15,000 for something that would affect only 18 percent of the students for a week,” Maull said.

    Without the allocation, the development of an instant runoff voting system will be left to the university-run StudentLink, according to Pae. Without the funding, Pae and Maull said the university estimates the system will be completed “as early as 2007.”

    Assistant Vice Chancellor of Admissions and Enrollment Services Mae Brown, who serves on the new TritonLink executive council, said that the development of an instant runoff voting system was not included in the list of priorities for the Web site because of the $15,000 allocation made by the 2003-04 A.S. Council.

    According to Brown, a lot of time and energy is being devoted to the development of TritonLink, which will replace the existing StudentLink.

    The instant runoff voting system would allow UCSD voters to choose their top three choices for any A.S. position. If any candidate received a majority of first-choice votes, that candidate would be declared the winner. If no majority existed, the candidate receiving the least first-choice votes would be eliminated. Voters who ranked the eliminated candidate first would have their votes transferred to their second choice. This process would be repeated until one candidate received a majority of votes.

    With the system unavailable for the immediate future, the A.S. Council will have to revise the A.S. Election Bylaws, which require instant runoffs if no candidate has a majority.

    For two races in the 2004 election, the council solved the problem by temporarily changing the bylaws to require a rapid runoff instead of an instant runoff. While an instant runoff has voters rank their top choices and uses computers to perform a runoff automatically if necessary, a rapid runoff consists of a second election held in the days immediately following the general election.

    Because this fix was only temporary, the council will now have to find a more permanent solution. Such a solution could include the implementation of rapid runoff or changes to election bylaws to reinstate a plurality system, in which candidates would not need a majority to win.

    While the council did not allocate the money for the instant runoff voting system, it has not determined the fate of the system. According to Marshall Junior Senator Kate Pillon, the current council has not made any decision yet about whether it wants to implement instant runoff voting at some point in the near future.

    “When used appropriately — once it’s foolproof — I think [instant runoff] is the best system,” Pae said. “We have great developers on campus, and a program should be developed for UCSD.”

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $5000
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $5000
    Contributed
    Our Goal