More than 30 students showed up at the Georgetown University Student Association senate election information session last night, preparing for the Sept. 19 campaign kick-off and Sept. 26 election.
GUSA President Nate Tisa (SFS ’14) encouraged attendees to review and campaign on current campus issues particular to their interests.
“Being a part of the student government will show you the best of Georgetown but at times show you the worst of it,” he said. “However, it will be a great chance for you to engage your passions and change things for the better.”
This year’s election, however, will run slightly differently than previous ones. In a bill unanimously passed by the transitional GUSA senate committee Sunday, districts with more than one seat will run under a single transferable voting system, instead of an instant runoff voting system, which was used in the past elections.
The new system uses preferential voting in multi-member constituencies, requiring candidates to reach a certain share of quota votes instead of a majority of votes to be elected, as was the case under the old system. After a senator is elected by reaching the designated threshold, surplus votes are then transferred in accord to their ranking preferences to other remaining candidates.
Election Commission Chair Ethan Chess (COL ’14) stressed that altering the voting system will not lead to significant changes in election results.
“For the majority of the time, STV will produce the same results as IRV,” he said. “But when it doesn’t, it produces a better and more representative result.”
The alteration of the voting system follows up on the 2011 redistricting reform, which combined certain districts into jurisdictions with multiple member representation in order to ensure each district was a similar size.
“This is the last step for us to getting us our electoral map and procedures to where it should be,” he said.
Chess said that the old IRV system did not produce the most desirable results for districts such as Darnall and Harbin Halls, which is one district represented by three senators. Southwest Quad representation was similarly problematic.
“In single districts, [it] makes sense,” Chess said. “But in multiple districts, a better system to give more consistent result is STV, because IRV looks only for the one preferred candidate but ignores support relative to one candidate versus another, which is important in districts looking to elect three or four or more representatives.”
If the referendum petition on the university’s consideration of a satellite residence is deemed valid by the Election Commission, the referendum will be held concurrently with the senate election Sept. 26.
The referendum, proposed by the “One Georgetown, One Campus” campaign, is an up-or-down vote and asks students, “Do you support a satellite residence for Georgetown undergraduates?”
Because the referendum appears as the first on the ballot page, followed by candidates for at-large seats and candidates of the individual student’s own district, Tisa expects to see larger voter turnouts.
“What we’ve seen in the past years, when there’s a referendum question on the ballot is a boost on the turnout, which is good for our system, good for our participation and good for student engagement,” he said.