ASWC executive council to be elected

Molly Smith // Published April 2, 2009 in Whitman College Pioneer

April elections of Whitman College's Executive Council and Senate will make use of instant runoff voting.

The onslaught of campaign posters plastered around campus and the creation of electoral Facebook groups signals only one thing: ASWC elections.

Over the course of the next two weeks, Whitman students’ electoral decisions will determine the makeup of the student government for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Elections for the Executive Council (EC) are scheduled for this upcoming Monday, April 6. Senate elections will follow on Wednesday, April 15.

Comprised of both elected and appointed officers, the EC positions up for election include the President, Chair of Student Affairs, Finance Chair, Programming Chair and Nominations Chair.

There are 12 students running for the five EC positions this year. According to current ASWC members, this is an increase from previous years.

“Executive Council elections in the past have been pretty non-competitive… which isn’t good if you don’t have a strong candidate,” said ASWC Communications Director senior Rand Biersdorff.

Last year, three of the five EC positions were filled by candidates who ran unopposed. In comparison, the only position with a lone candidate this year is the Nominations Chair, after another candidate decided not to run.

A candidate running unopposed is not guaranteed of a win, however. It is possible for write-in candidates to gain office. Last year, a senior senator was elected through this process.

EC elections use an instant runoff voting (IRV) system. This preferential system of voting uses ranked ballots to stimulate a traditional runoff in a single round of voting.

According to ASWC bylaws, “The votes are counted only by tabulating the first choice, and then if no candidate has a majority of first-preference votes, the least popular candidate is eliminated and each vote which has been awarded to him or her is then transferred to the voters’ next-choice candidate.” This process continues until one EC candidate receives the necessary majority (over 50%) for election.

Current Oversight Chair, junior Kendra Vandree, describes the system as being the most logical.

“This allows so that the general opinion of constituents is represented, even if it doesn’t result in the candidate with the highest number of first preferences,” Vandree said of the system.

Senate elections are conducted in a similar, although not identical, manner. If a senate candidate does not initially receive the majority of the vote, then the other rankings are taken into consideration for just the four highest candidates.

The elections are conducted through an online electronic polling system. Students will receive an email inviting them to participate in the election. Students may vote from their personal computers or from a campus computer. Voting stations will also be set up in Reid Campus Center.

The online poll will be open from 12:01 a.m. to 8 p.m. on April 6.

In light of the economic turmoil the college is currently facing, next year’s Executive Council has a tough road ahead. They will face many challenges and will be called upon to make many important decisions that will have a significant impact on student life.