Re-vote becomes referendum

    Concerns were raised about how much students know about electoral system (Nathan Paton/AQ)
    Concerns were raised about how much students know about electoral system (Nathan Paton/AQ)

    Discussion was reopened Thursday night on a failed motion from the Jan. 17 STUSU meeting because the vote taken was invalid.

    At-large representative, Jon Munn, left his vote on a paper with the chair, Ryan Smith, when he left for his night class. This is allowed under Robert’s Rules.

    Smith initially forgot to count Munn’s vote until it was pointed out by Alex Driscoll. Munn’s voted ended up being the tie-breaker.

    “I had forgotten that Jon had left it with me. Other people had also left and not been offered the same opportunity. I feel this is not fair and that it invalidates that vote. I went through our minutes to make sure it didn’t invalidate any others, which it didn’t,” Smith said, when explaining why a re-vote was necessary.

    The vote was over an amendment to the proposed constitutional changes. The amendment would cancel the switch from the current single member plurality system to a single transferrable vote.

    Council members were confused about the differences between the election systems. Alex Driscoll taught a brief lesson on the difference between the two systems using the whiteboard and an example of 100 votes between three candidates.

    “In SMP, first past the post, what this means is that the person with the most votes, not the majority would win,” Driscoll said.

    “In STV, we would go to a preferential ballot. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say you have to get at least 50 per cent plus one to win. That’s the threshold in STV. So if I get 38 votes, I still need another 12 to win. Let’s say 30 people voted for John in the first round. 30 people voted for him as number one, but they all voted for Fin as number two. So what happens is that at the end of the first round, the candidate with the lowest number is scratched, so John would lose. And then the 30 number two votes would be transferred to Fin. So Fin would get 62 votes, I would get 38 and John would be disqualified. So Fin would actually win in a system of STV,” Driscoll said.

    Discussion shifted to why something as significant as how representatives are elected was not being put to the student body to decide.

    Luke Robertson was the first to suggest a referendum. His suggestion was supported by council.

    Alex Carleton raised concerns about how much students know about the current system and wondered if the STUSU would make clear the differences between the system in the lead up to the referendum.

    The governance committee was given the task of crafting a referendum question for students, due at council on Feb. 7.

    “I feel as CRO it would be a good idea to present this to students because even if we all say yes, we’re not the ones that are necessarily using this system. We should get input from the ones who will be using the system before making a decision,” Justin Creamer, chief returning officer said.

    Creamer also said that he doesn’t care which system students prefer because they require equal work to set up.

    “Where it’s so divided at council, it’s probably best to take a poll of the students,” President John Hoben.

    The referendum question will be put to students during the spring general election on Feb. 26 and 27.


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