Pre-Choice Voting Elections
In the Winter 1995 ASUCD Election the voters approved the “Democracy at Davis” initiative which, among other things, divided ASUCD into an executive and legislative branch and created the ASUCD Senate with 10 members. Prior to this, ASUCD was governed by a small Executive Council. The first ASUCD Senate election was in Fall 1995. A year later (I believe) the Senate was expanded to 12 members with the “Democracy at Davis II” initiative.
Prior to Fall 2003, ASUCD used Block Voting for its Senate and Executive Council elections. Every voter could vote for as many candidates as there were seats available. In a normal Senate election with six Senate seats open this meant a voter could vote for up to six candidates. The six candidates with the most votes would be elected. This system was very susceptible to extremely lopsided election results where one slate could win all of the seats despite significant support for other slates and candidates. These situations, where many voters were completely unrepresented in the Senate, were a catalyst for the change to Choice Voting.
ASUCD Executive Elections prior to Fall 2003 required a simple majority of the votes (50% + 1 vote) for a ticket to win the Presidency/Vice-Presidency. If no ticket received a majority there would be a runoff election scheduled for a later date between the two executive tickets with the most votes. Since the purpose of a runoff election is to allow voters who didn’t vote for the top two tickets to have a say in which one wins, the implementation of Choice Voting did the same thing while also eliminating the need for a second election.
Choice Voting Elections
In the Winter 2003 ASUCD Election the voters approved a change to the voting system used by ASUCD to elect Senators and the President/Vice-President. Choice Voting, or Single Transferable Vote, was first used in the Fall 2003 election and has been used in every subsequent election. Choice Voting attempts to prevent wasted votes and spoiler candidates while creating a more proportional representation of the voting population.
In a Choice Voting election voters rank the candidates based on the voter’s preference. They can rank as many or as few of the candidates as they choose. Candidates are elected when they meet a mathematical threshold set for that election (see below). If no candidate has met the threshold then the candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated and any votes for that candidate are transferred to those voter’s next preferred candidate. This process continues until all available seats for that election have been filled.
To determine the threshold of a Choice Voting election you take the total number of votes and divide it by the total number of seats to be filled, plus one. Then add one to the result of that division. Shown here:
number of votes
____________________ + 1 = Threshold
number of seats + 1
In a normal six seat ASUCD Senate Election, a candidate needs to gain one-seventh of the total votes, plus one vote to guarantee election.
In an ASUCD President/Vice-President Election an executive ticket needs to gain one-half of the total votes, plus one vote to guarantee election.
Vacancies on the ASUCD Senate were previously filled by the ASUCD President. With the passage of the Countback Amendment in Fall 2005, this changed to use the ballot data to fill vacancies on the Senate.
If a Senator resigns, the ballots used to elect that Senator and all exhausted ballots (voters whose vote did not elect any Senator during that election) are used to run an election to elect a new Senator. Essentially it finds those voter’s next choice.
Unfortunately, this was repealed in the Fall 2018 election.
This is in no way up-to-date with the changes that have happened since I was at UCD. I will try to update this with the major changes to the electoral system used by ASUCD.