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New Student Body President election format will be passed to Christy Lambden

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misrepresented the nature of a student government bill at N.C. State University to eliminate instant runoff voting. The bill would eliminate the voting practice only in legislative races. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error. 

The bill would change voting from a general election and runoff system to instant runoff voting, where voters determine the winner by ranking each of the candidates in order of preference. That would eliminate any campaigning after the original vote.

Lambden will decide by Tuesday whether or not to veto the bill, said Student Body Vice President Jacob Morse. Lambden vetoed a similar measure in August.

A member of Student Congress who favored the bill referenced a reduction in voter and candidate fatigue as a reason for the switch, saying that N.C. State University and Duke University have found the method to be more efficient.

However, N.C. State Student Senate President Kelsey Mills said their student senate will vote Wednesday on a bill to get rid of the instant runoff system for student body president elections. She said members of student government have voiced concerns about whether instant runoffs are indicative of what students really want.

Mills said a student senator also did research on selection bias and presented it to student government, which brought up concerns that voters commonly vote for the candidate at the top of the list and only know about a single candidate.

At Duke, Attorney General Syed Adil said arbitrary voting is a concern when there is a long list of candidates running for a single position, but that that mostly applies to freshman elections.

For bigger positions which usually only have two or three choices, instant runoff works very well, Adil said.

He said benefits to instant runoff voting include a short campaigning period and less money spent by candidates.

Student Congress Finance Chairwoman Brittany Best said she does not think because Duke and N.C. State do things a certain way that UNC should follow suit.

Best also had concerns about selection bias. She said she believes the system currently in place — while not perfect — is fairer.

Morse does not believe switching to instant runoff is necessary, because Lambden and Student Congress have already worked to shorten the campaign period. Morse also said by not having instant runoff, he thinks candidates are able to appeal to a broader base and dive into policy more.

“I do know earlier this year (Lambden) vetoed a very similar bill, so if he were to consider signing it, there’d have to be some differences (from the last bill),” Morse said.

Sophomore Katie Daniel is in favor of keeping the current system, and said it gives students more opportunities to learn about the candidates and their platforms.

“Drawing from my past experience with the Andrew Powell and Emilio (Vicente) runoff, I feel like when it came down to the runoff that’s when I started to pay more attention to what the two candidates were actually saying,” she said.

“I really didn’t know anything about the other candidates, so I would’ve felt bad ranking them lower.”

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