Choice Voting Amendment to the ASUCD Constitution

Drafted by the Green Party at UC Davis.
Passed: 2005 to 1003 on February 20, 2003.

This amendment is to take effect immediately following the ASUCD Winter Quarter 2002-03 General Elections.

BACKGROUND: Currently the ASUCD Constitution requires (1) a two-round runoff system to elect the ASUCD President and (2) a plurality system to elect the ASUCD senators. The following amendment would change both systems to a common system called Choice Voting.

In Choice Voting, instead of selecting one candidate in the case of the Presidential election, and six candidates in the case of the Senate election, in each case the voters would simply rank the candidates they support, in order of preference: 1, 2, 3, and so on.

For Presidential elections, Choice Voting is called Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). In an IRV election, a voter ranks as many candidates as they want. Then all #1 votes are tallied, if somebody has received a majority then they are the president, otherwise the last place candidate is eliminated and all of their votes are transferred to the #2 choices on those voters' ballots. This procedure is repeated until one candidate receives a majority and is elected the President. Under the current system, if nobody receives the majority of the vote, then a runoff is held between the top two candidates a week later. IRV thus eliminates the need for a costly second election. Also IRV allows a voter to give their opinion on all of the candidates rather than just one, thereby giving their vote more power and weight. Furthermore it allows the voter freedom to vote for the candidate of their choice without the fear that their vote might help a candidate that they strongly oppose.

For Senate elections, Choice Voting is also called Single Transferable Voting (STV). It is a form of proportional representation. STV was mathematically designed to elect a Senate that represents a miniature cross-section of all the voters. It ensures that nearly all voters elect a representative, so that the full diversity of viewpoints is represented in the Senate--in proportion to the support shown by the voters.

The ballots in an STV election are counted in a way very similar to IRV--except multiple candidates are elected. The following student governments use the choice voting: Cornell, Harvard, MIT, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Caltech, Princeton, John Hopkins, University of Maryland, and the University of Wisconsin.

Article II

Section 5.

Six (6) Senate seats shall be filled in the Fall Quarter Election and six (6) seats shall be filled in the Winter Quarter Election. In addition, any Senate seats vacant at the time of an election shall also be filled. Senate elections shall be conducted using the system of proportional representation called Single Transferable Voting, more commonly known as Choice Voting. The method of voting and counting shall be described in the ASUCD Elections Regulations. To permit an independent count of the ballots, the rankings cast by ballot shall be made available to the public upon request. ASUCD members shall cast no more votes than there are seats to be filled. One or more vacant Senate seats may exist when a General Election occurs. In this case, ASUCD members may cast their votes for the number of vacancies existing in addition to the number of seats normally eligible to be filled. Those eligible candidates who receive the highest vote totals Each winning candidate eligible to hold office will be issued a certificate of election during the week following the election at the Senate meeting. Upon receipt of a certificate of election, the newly-elected Senator will immediately assume office.

Article III

Section 3.

(2) The President and Vice President shall be elected annually during a general election conducted during the seventh week (7th) of Winter Quarter. The Presidential election shall be conducted using an Instant Runoff Voting system. The method of voting and counting shall be described in the ASUCD Elections Regulations. To permit an independent count of the ballots, the rankings cast by ballot shall be made available to the public upon request. The eligible candidates for the Presidential ticket receiving a simple majority of the votes cast for their offices in any round of the instant runoff shall be issued certificates of election from the outgoing President and Vice President at the . . .

(3) (Delete this subsection.)