Senate Considers Election Reform
Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 23:11
The Georgetown University Student Association Senate began discussions about altering the electoral system for senate elections at its weekly meeting Sunday evening.
Currently, senators are elected via an instant runoff system through which voters rank candidates by preference, and the candidate with the fewest votes at the end of each round is eliminated.
“We just wanted to see if instant runoff voting is still the best way to do it,” Vice Speaker of the GUSA Senate Zachary Singer (SFS ’15) said.
Singer proposed the reform because the amount of people who ran for senate positions this fall made the election process time-consuming and complicated for the two chairs of the GUSA Election Commission, Ethan Chess (COL ’14) and Pavan Raigopal (SFS ’15), who were responsible for calculating votes and determining district winners in the election.
“Right now it is two people running through an enormous amount of data,” Singer said.
Senator at-large and chairman of the Intellectual Life Committee George Spyropoulos Dorian (COL ’14) agreed.
“The elections were the most competitive so far … and it's OK to assume that it will be more competitive in the future,” he said. “It took longer and was more tedious. Candidates didn't know until the morning of the first session of the senate.”
However, Chess said that the work load is not his primary concern.
“The real issue is for voters,” he said. “The election commission can pull an all-nighter, but the real issue is for the voters and when they’re voting what is the easiest thing for them to express their rights and to vote for best candidate — the candidate that they want
He added that the increased volume of candidates was a result of the Senate Redistricting Bill last November, which resulted in more equally represented districts. According to Chess, before the bill was passed, student living off- campus were less represented than students on campus.
“We decided that the best way to do it was to have senators from multiple dorms be combined so … votes would count almost equally,” he said.
“The result of that was big districts with people who really want to run,” Singer said. “It works great for the executive elections, and it works great for smaller districts, but it may have gotten a little too bloated with the amount of people.”
An election reform commission, which will include seven students — Chess, Raigopal, three GUSA senators, Singer and one appointed member of the executive — will meet for the first time Sunday to begin gathering research about different election processes to craft a bill, according to Dorian.
Singer said he aims to have research completed by Dec. 7 so the senate can debate and vote on the bill before winter break.
“We want to make sure that how we elect our senators is not only the most efficient process but also produces a result that everyone can be happy with because the last thing we want to do is skew results because of a complicated system,” he said.