On Tuesday night the GUSA Senate voted to change the method of voting in the presidential election from instant runoff voting to a plurality system. This change comes in response to controversy over last year’s election, which resulted in the selection of Pat Dowd (SFS ’09) as Student Association president and James Kelly (COL ’09) as vice president.

Instant runoff voting was adopted by the Election Commission in 2006 after five years in which no GUSA ticket won the majority of student votes. IRV is a system in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no ticket receives a majority of the first-place votes, the ticket receiving the lowest number of votes in that round is eliminated, and these votes are redistributed to the remaining tickets based on what the voter indicated as his or her second choice. This process continues, with votes for eliminated candidates being redistributed based on the voter’s next choice, until one ticket receives a majority.

Last year, the senate rejected the results of the presidential election, citing problems with the IRV system. A second election was held with only four of the seven original tickets on the ballot. D.W. Cartier (COL ’09) and Andrew Rugg (COL ’09), who won the first election with 51.2 percent of the vote, were defeated by Dowd and Kelly in the second election.

GUSA Vice Speaker Brian Wood (COL ’09) explained the need for the bylaw change.

“I got a lot of calls [about the last election],” he said. “I have gotten a lot of resistance to instant runoff voting.”

Senate Speaker Reggie Greer (COL ’09) said he supports the plurality system, where the ticket that receives the most votes wins the election, regardless of whether or not that ticket receives the majority of the votes.

“I like it,” he said. “It’ll make it easier for people to understand the election.”

“I understand the founding fathers of the senate had a different vision, and I agreed with them at the time,” Greer said. “But this way we have one vote, one person.”

Other changes included an increase in campaign spending limits, raising the limit from $200 to $300, which includes all donations and expenses incurred over the course of the campaign by anyone campaigning on behalf of a candidate. The role of the campaign staff has been written out of the bylaws, and the funding rule now applies to anyone contributing on behalf of a candidate.

Frederick Moore (COL `09) and Will Dreher (SFS `09) were also approved as the new election commissioners. They will work with the Election Commission to oversee election standards this spring.

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