Tuesday, April 28, 2009
How to "fix" elections
So you don't like the way the drop process works? Fix it. Some approaches (for the pedantic folks out there, I'm not counting meaningless drops that don't affect tabulation as drops here):
1. Don't let people drop after the Point of No Return. Sort of a "duh" suggestion, and used pretty widely.
2. Don't let people drop once voting has started (or long enough before voting starts for the ballot to be changed).
For those who pretend to be concerned about denying the will of voters by dropping, despite how stupid that argument is, either of these should not only be adequate, but worth striving for. Unfortunately, this prevents parties from running candidates for name recognition alone, so don't expect their fake principles to hold up against real impacts.
It's important to remember that an actual cutoff needs to be set. This can be either of the cutoffs set above, or the end of the election process. Setting it to end at the preliminary tabulation is possible, but relies on the secrecy of the votes, which there's good reason not to rely on. There's no reason to let drops drag on after voting starts, anyway.
The dumbest of all ideas, though, is allowing drops after preliminary tabulations without provoking a recount, which is naturally what the ASUC seems prepared to codify. Why? Because there are many things which can provoke a recount, and the meaning of dropping in that limbo space after the preliminary tabulation should not have the impact of incentivizing those things.
Retabulations aren't provoked just by disqualifications, despite what Oscar Mairena and the Judicial Council claimed, and reading that section of the By-Laws as an "if and only if" statement was historically ignorant. Both the 2007 and 2008 elections had retabulations due to problems with the vote file. If we are to take the Judicial Council seriously, even if it is discovered that the vote file was corrupted either by inappropriate changes (2008) or broken syntax (2007), the results of the preliminary tabulation would still hold, despite it being publicly known and accepted that those results don't reflect the vote.
The alternative is to allow such retabulations, but does the ASUC really want to allow drops that only matter if something goes wrong? Aren't they at all worried about the possibility of things going wrong deliberately? The only sensible choices, as far as I can tell, are a fully-informed dropping process or a pre-election cutoff.
. . .
. . .