Record Voter Turnout in Senate, Council Elections

Increased Participation Seen Across All Class Years

An unprecedented 1,203 votes were cast in the Undergraduate Association Fall 2007 elections for Senate and 2011 Class Council — a sharp increase over the 1,083 votes cast in 2006 and 1,160 cast in 2005. The elections concluded Friday, Oct. 5.

The increase in voter turnout can largely be attributed to the increase in freshman and senior participation; 585 freshmen and 185 seniors voted, compared to last year’s 527 and 124, respectively. Voter turnout also rose slightly for sophomores and juniors. (For tables of the winners and voter breakdown by class and residence, see page 16.)

Running mates Daniel Li ’11 and Anshul Bhagi ’11 will head the 2011 Class Council as president and vice president. They are joined by Secretary Lulu Wang ’11, Treasurer Sivakami Sambasivam ’11, Social Chairs Emma M. Rosen ’11 and Jeff Zhao ’11, and Publicity Chairs Sheena Bhalla ’11 and May Liu ’11.

“It was a very competitive election this year,” said Bhagi. “The hardest part about campaigning was, every night, thinking about what my opponents were doing and how to compete with them.” Li/Bhagi’s primary opponents, Daniel Chen ’11 and Sojung C. Lee ’11, finished second in the presidential and vice-presidential races, respectively.

Furthermore, 27 UA Senate Representatives were elected from campus dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups, though only 26 will serve.

Jacob W. Dweck ’11 was elected as Senate Representative from Bexley Hall, though he did not show up to the Senate meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9 and will forfeit his post. Dweck, who was not on the ballot, received enough write-in votes to defeat everyone except “Naked Abe Lincoln,” a fictional student, who received 18 votes, down from 35 votes last year. As in previous years, Bexley will not have a UA Senate representative.

By residence, Bexley had the highest voter participation, with 52 percent of eligible voters casting ballots (though most of those votes were for fictional or unwilling candidates), followed by Baker House at 41 percent. On the other end of the spectrum, 8 percent of off-campus residents participated, followed by 22 percent of eligible sorority members. Overall, voter participation was 29 percent.

According to UA Election Commissioner JiangWei (Alexis) Zhu ’08, approximately 30 paper ballots were cast on Friday, Oct. 5 after online voting ended on Thursday, Oct. 4, a figure comparable to last year.

The UA ElectComm utilizes a system of preferential voting, in which voters rank candidates numerically instead of simply selecting one. The winner of each election is determined by an algorithm with multiple iterations. In each iteration, the poorest-scoring candidate’s votes are redistributed to the next-highest-ranked candidate on the ballots, eliminating one candidate per iteration. This process continues until there are only two candidates left, at which time the candidates with more votes is the winner.

Preferential voting explains the phenomenon by which Liu and Bhalla were elected as Social Co-Chairs despite receiving fewer first-place votes than candidate pair Hway (Helen) Chen ’11 and Carolyn L. Wang ’11. Chen/Wang received 202 votes to Liu/Bhalla’s 183, but more of the ballots cast for Brienne A. Kugler ’11 and Rose E. Yu ’11 ranked Liu/Bhalla second preferentially. After three iterations, Liu/Bhalla emerged victorious by two votes, winning the election by the narrow margin with 238 votes to Chen/Wang’s 236.

“I think the election results speak for themselves,” UA President Martin F. Holmes ’08 said. “We had a record number of candidates and a record voter turnout.” Zhu expressed satisfaction with the election as well. “I think elections went really well this year,” she said. “There were no problems. Nobody backstabbed each other; [there were] no violations of campaign rules. Everything was done very carefully and systematically.”