Voices & Choices

Duke student turnout for RCV election up 25 percent from year ago

Duke student turnout for RCV election up 25 percent from year ago

This year the men's basketball team at Duke had a fantastic season that ended last week in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. In addition to their prowess in the court, the Blue Devils are also leaders in the movement to create fair representation for their students. In 2004, Duke University adopted ranked choice voting for its 14,000 students to use in their executive elections and has since expanded the practice to all elective positions.

In March 2018, 2,432 students showed up at the polls for their student government elections, compared to 1,948 in 2017 - an increase in turnout of approximately 25 percent. Kristina Smith, a junior, was elected as president and sophomore Jake Hoberg as the executive vice-president. Smith won the election after four rounds of instant runoff voting; Sabriyya Pate finished second. Hoberg won his race after two rounds.

It wasn't until last Wednesday however that students found out who would be their leaders for the upcoming year -- two weeks after the polls had closed. The election results were delayed because the Board of Elections had docked 200 votes from the eventual winning ticket and the decision was appealed to Duke's Student Government Judiciary. The matter in question was whether the Smith campaign violated an election rule requiring student to not solicit votes "while possessing any laptop, tablet, or similar electronic device that can access the ballot." The Smith campaign had been playing music on an iPad while talking to voters and thus were docked 200 first-place votes by the Board of Elections.

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