Feb 102010
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

In order to give underdog candidates a fighting chance in city elections, CSU’s student government unanimously endorsed legislation Wednesday that would revamp the current voting method.

The proposed change, which would allow voters to rank each candidate by preference, would improve the likelihood of a student or student-friendly candidate being elected, student government leaders said.

“You don’t have a fear that the candidate you vote for won’t get elected,” said Courtney Sullivan, director of the Associated Students of CSU’s Community Affairs department.

Ranked voting in elections with more than two people would take into consideration the voter’s second and third choices if no candidate gets the majority of votes.

The current system is a plurality in which voters choose one candidate and the candidate with the greatest number of votes is elected.

“By no means are politics in Fort Collins dirty, but this would clean it up a bit,” she said, adding that the method promotes healthy campaigning.

Plurality voting has resulted in less popular candidates winning elections in Fort Collins with fewer than a majority of the popular vote –– this has happened in six of the 12 municipal races in the past decade.

In 1999, former Mayor Ray Martinez won the election with 29 percent of the popular vote, according to ASCSU research.
Eric Fried, a member of the local organization Fort Collins Ranked Voting, said the team has been working to gain the support of other associations that have strong public support.

Both Larimer County League of Women Voters and the Northern Colorado Labor Council have signed on, he said.

The next city level elections are scheduled for April 2011, but to make ranked voting a ballot initiative, the organization has to start gathering signatures from citizens this summer, Fried said.

“It’s not as much time as you think,” he said. If ranked voting is adopted, he said he hopes it will encourage more students to vote.

“You can vote for who you want without voting strategically,” Fried said.

If ranked voting is adopted, Fort Collins would join Aspen, San Francisco, Calif., Burlington, Vt. and Minneapolis, Minn., just a few of the cities nationwide that use the system.

Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Learn more about Voting in fort Collins

The situation:
Student government is endorsing the use of ranked voting in city elections to give underdog candidates a fighting chance.

Plurality:
Voters choose one candidate and the candidate with the greatest number of votes is elected. This is the current voting method used by the city of Fort Collins.

Ranked voting:
Voters rank each candidate by preference in elections with more than two people and elections consider the voters second and third choices if no candidate gets the majority of votes.

Other places that use Ranked Voting:
Aspen
San Francisco, Calif.
Burlington, Vt.
Minneapolis, Minn.
Takoma Park Md.
Pierce County, Wash.

More information can be found at www.fortcollinsrankedvoting.org.

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