Rules of enfranchisement

If you weren’t planning on voting because you don’t give a shit about GUSA, now you have a reason to: You can learn about other countries’ electoral systems. GUSA is now using an instant runoff system – also known as the Alternative Vote – used most famously in Australia and Ireland. What kind of Georgetown student doesn’t get all excited over that?
Well, it excites me.

I’m obsessed with Electoral systems because I took a class on them when I studied in Argentina for a semester. The class was impossibly hard, but I learned that in some countries, you vote for lists of people, not individuals. Sometimes, seats are allocated by quotas and divisors. Multiple systems even exist within one country, like in Germany and Bolivia and Lesotho. If you want to know more, just search ‘Electoral systems’ at wikipedia. Then click the Spanish button. Then you too can know all the countries in the world that employ “Vota Alternativa.”

GUSA and the aussies got it right. It’s good for a bunch of reasons. For starters, there’s no need for a run-off election, which just wastes everybody’s time. No matter what, you get the election results promptly, instead of having to wait for a week or two before the run-off election, by which time you’ve already forgotten who the contenders are.

The alternative vote is also more democratic because it delves deeper into voters’ preferences than a plurality system, where you just vote for one candidate. My second and third choices matter. If my favorite competitor got the least votes, he’s thrown out of the race, but all of the ballots that had the biggest loser as a first choice are still used. My candidate of choice is done for, but my vote lives on. Whomever I ranked second gets my vote.
Lastly, the Alternative Vote is great because you get to hate on people. If one of the Presidential hopefuls really irks you, rank him last. Now that’s a reason to vote.

Posted by Keenan Steiner, Editorial Board Chair

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