In an effort to eliminate runoff elections, Student Government passed an amendment to its constitution Tuesday night establishing a new rank-based voting system.
Under the new system, known as the single-transferable-vote method, voters will rank candidates in order of preference. Each student’s single vote will originally go to their first-choice candidate, but as candidates with few votes are eliminated, votes will redistribute to second- or third-choice candidates on the ballot.
“There is a concern that certain groups may feel alienated from student government just because we haven’t always been the most welcoming, but hopefully we will be able to hear their voices more with this new system,” said Benjamin Solder, co-author of Assembly Bill 19.
The amendment was voted on during last week’s general assembly meeting and failed to pass by a single vote.
“It’s a complex calculation, so there was a lot of initial fear that the complexity would also be transferred to the students and that they would be discouraged from voting,” said Solder, a neuroscience junior.
According to the legislation, the amendment offers a more accurate representation of the voting population and eliminates runoff elections, which would “reduce the subsequent drama and negative coverage in The Daily Texan student newspaper.”
“It’s more fair, it’s more representative, and it’s more efficient than running another election,” said A.B. 19 co-author Matthew Cox, an electrical engineering freshman.
Cox said runoff elections typically see a lower voter turnout and are commonly considered a hassle. If A.B. 19 is approved by the student body, the new system will save time in the end, Cox said.
Raphael Jaquette, SG liberal arts representative, voted against the bill but said he is looking forward to seeing how it is enacted in future elections.
“My principle objection is that, in my mind, there wasn’t a comparable sample university, but I believe this is really going to work,” said Jaquette, a Middle Eastern studies sophomore. “I think it’s a good idea, I just needed more data for another way to look at the system.”
Students will vote on whether or not to ratify the amendment at the bottom of Spring 2018 general election ballots. If approved by the student body, the new system will be in place for students to use when voting in the Fall 2018 First-Year Student elections.