Organization works to make voting fair

Zack Levine // Published April 10, 2008 in The Daily Tar Heel
Politics took the spotlight Wednesday night in Murphey Hall as students and representatives from FairVote NC discussed ways to improve the election system on both a state and national scale.

The two topics that were debated included a plan for a national popular vote system and FairVote NC's campaign for instant runoff voting.

"It is important because a lot of people are unsatisfied with the Electoral College," said Ron Bilbao, committee chairman. "It's not right that you can get elected without winning the majority of the vote."

Torrey Dixon, executive director of FairVote NC, spoke to the audience about the plan for a national popular vote bill and its advantages over the Electoral College system.

Dixon said presidential candidates have no reason to campaign in states that are predetermined as "red" or "blue" because they know they will either automatically win or lose those electoral votes.

"It discourages people who live in these states to vote when they know their state always votes a certain way," Dixon said.

Instant runoff voting is a method of voting in which people will choose not only their first choice for the position but also their second and third choices, said Elena Everett, director of FairVote NC's campaign for instant runoff voting.

She explained that this option for voting eliminates the possibility of a runoff between candidates. She added that the ballot is simple to use.

"It's like listing your favorite ice cream flavors," Everett said. "Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry. People make those kinds of choices every day."

FairVote is a 15-year-old national organization dedicated to restructuring the democratic system to better reflect the voice of the people. The N.C. branch of the organization was added a year ago.

The officials from FairVote NC were brought to speak as a part of an ongoing election awareness event called Campaign Series '08 sponsored by Table Talk, a Campus Y committee.

Table Talk is in its eighth week of arranging speakers that members hope will further educate students about various aspects of the upcoming election, Bilbao said.

Table Talk members believe issues such as these voting systems should be important to students, and they expect them to become prevalent in future elections.

"We want to make sure people do care," Bilbao said. "They need to know their voting system is broken, there are other efficient ways to vote and that there are new options on the horizon."