Voting at OES

by Simon Mehari

Voting: Some say it’s the duty of citizens; some say that it is irrelevant and doesn’t matter. This ideological feud is a challenge not only faced by the OES community, but by much of the world.

Earlier this week, Deri made an announcement in a dorm meeting telling people that they should vote for the various positions that students were running for. After his announcement, I found myself questioning whether or not abstaining from voting was a way of being an active citizen.

This led to me wonder whether or not I should vote this Friday. Obviously I want to be a good citizen, but knowing my vote counts for 0.3% of the total votes is demeaning to me. It makes me wonder about the impact I have in this community and beyond.

It is fairly obvious to people that my longtime friend, Daniel E., is a current candidate for Student Body President. With that in mind, most people assume that my vote will go to him purely on the fact that he is my friend.

But I take issue with that because, to me, there is more to voting to me than helping a longtime friend secure a leadership position. Instead, voting is a decision about who will best represent this school, myself, and a variety of other things.

Adam Steele said during our last class meeting regarding elections and how we should take a step back and think who we truly think the best candidate is and distinguishing them from our friends.

At the start, I brushed it off and thought, “There is no way I vote for anyone besides my friend.” But as time progressed I started to formulate questions that can be tied into one: Is it unethical to vote for your friend even if you think they would be a genuinely good candidate?

This is a challenging question because the answer most students give is: I am going to support and vote for my friend. The answer most adults will give is: Voting in High School is going to prepare you for the real world, therefore, voting for the better candidate now will help you make the right decisions later.

Whether you should vote or not is entirely up to you, but I reached out to the candidates for President as well as Mike Gwaltney to ask a series of question.

Simon: “At OES voting is optional. Last year for student body president about 90% of students voted. Do you think voting should be mandatory at OES? Why?”

Daniel E: I don’t think it should be mandatory because what it does right now is it mimics the real voting system used in the world. Since 90% of students voted it shows the responsibilities students have right now without it being required.

Maya C: “I don’t believe voting should be mandatory because voting is a form of support for the specific ideas that candidates have. By making it mandatory you will get a lot of people who don’t care as much about how elections turnout. It’s said that not voting is another way to vote. With this information we should respect people’s choice on whether or not to vote. I would love it if people got involved in student gov and b/c it’s something i’m passionate about but it shouldn’t be forced upon other people. By keeping voting optional it will ensure those who choose to vote care about the matters at hand.”

Anna S: I think making it mandatory would make it more realistic because I don’t think people make a conscious decision to not vote. No one that i know of actively chooses not to vote. I do not think it would make that much of a difference I think it would make whoever in charge of counting votes would be a hassle for them. Accounting for students who are on extended leaves of absence would be difficult and more stressful than faculty members need.

Chandler W: I tend to have an interesting opinion on this topic – I believe voting should certainly be optional. If you aren’t an informed voter, your two best options are either not to vote at all or to wholeheartedly inform yourself about the candidates. IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) collects the most information from each voter, and as such it is ever more crucial to inform oneself about the candidates mindset, methodologies and options.

Mike G: My opinion is if you have a when almost 90% of voters vote  it’s safe to say the people who didn’t vote don’t want to participate

Simon: “Do you think the current alternative voting system is the best possible way to represent the student body’s voice? Do you think the student body likes the alternative voting system?”

Daniel E: “I think the biggest problem with majority is that if one person gets just above 50% and another doesn’t people can be unhappy because their voices isn’t heard. With a ranking system you are able to get as much info from each voter as possible. I haven’t really heard any complaints or compliments regarding the new system.”

Maya C: “I believe that at the time it was implemented it was because the issue with majority voting was that it was possible that the two final candidates in a runoff were not representatives of 50% +1 of the voters. I don’t think the alternative voting system has nearly the amount of support that the majority system had when it was at OES. I think it’s something that should be opened up for discussion with the entire student body because when the decision was made to change systems last year students did not get that opportunity. I want people to be happy with the system and giving them input on whether we keep this system or change again will hopefully do that.”

Anna S: “I am not sure if it is the best way to represent each person’s voice. I think the current system automatically assumes that each voter wants more than one candidate to get student body president. And it is a good system if that is what you want as a voter. I do not think people understand it completely. From what I have heard people don’t get that first place votes do not matter”

Chandler W: “I say it’s pretty close to perfect, but there is certainly still room to grow. I haven’t taken any courses on voting theory, but I think it’d be interesting to converse with students who have taken courses such as Discrete Mathematics, which covers such topics. I personally believe statistically analyzing the voting system is necessary to properly manage it – often fuzzy, intuitionist thinking tends to be the go-to for managing such systems, but this tends to imperfectly represent the student body. For now, I believe IRV is a solid method, but there is always room to grow. Kudos to Policy Board, though, for explaining IRV exceptionally well – I believe that the explanations given about the method have been extremely clear and concise.”

Mike: “I am a big supporter of instant runoff voting when there are more than two or three high quality candidates.”