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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

a new voting system for the uc

On Sunday night, the UC passed an important bill that probably seems very boring. It was way buried in the Crimson article that ran on Monday, but I think it really has the potential to positively change the way the UC handles business. The legislation, which was sponsored by Freshmen Rep. Matt Greenfield, was entitled: “23S-35: The Instant Roll Call Voting Act”!
It’s actually pretty awesome stuff. What it is is a set of voting clickers that each representative will have during the meetings that send vote information up to a big board for display in the front of the room. It’s way better than it sounds. From a simple UC perspective, it will save a mad amount of time, because counting votes takes a while, and people are always calling for recounts and stuff, and this will just make things more efficient. (more in expanded post)

But it also addresses one of the most important structural difficulties the UC faces: nobody knows how their representatives vote. This system will make it so that every vote will necessarily record how each representative voted (unless the UC votes to make a vote in secret, but there will be pressure against doing that with this new system). And it’s not that everybody will be rushing to see how their representatives voted. But some people will care about some issues. And they should be able to know how their representatives are voting; it’s a pretty fundamental thing to do if we actually care about representation. Under the current method, there is a great deal of pressure against taking roll-call votes, because they take time and force people to go on the record. This new system will remove both obstacles, and it will be a huge first step toward making the UC more responsible, open, and its representatives accountable for their work, on the basis of actual issues.


At 7:22 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...

Yo, I don't really understand what caused the sudden change in everyone's thinking. For a long time, as you point out, people have been against voting on the record, etc. Why the sudden surge of belief in good government and transparency?

At 12:48 AM, Blogger Neeraj "Richie" Banerji said...

Because of the fervent belief that scrutiny and transparent processes are demanded by our constituents. This righteousness is the Mahan Legacy. Not bad.

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Jamal Sprucewood said...

Perhaps it could be that UC members realize the irony in voting down, via an anonymous hand count, a bill requiring them to go on record.

Or, it could just be that UC members are perfectly willing to go on the record but that the current process of roll call voting takes up too much meeting time and the new system does away with that with instantaneous results. This results in UC members spending less time in meetings (which most hate already).

You know what they say about theory confronting reality...reality wins. Call me a realist.

At 3:16 PM, Blogger Jamal Sprucewood said...

PS - What is the Mahan Legacy?

At 5:18 PM, Blogger andrew golis said...

depends on who you talk to, the people who actually know something about his accomplishments (TERM BILL, party hours, blue light phones, etc.) or the people who have simply been effected by what they read in the Crimson: "we don't like Mahan, he doesn't like us, therefore we ignore his impressive accomplishments." Not that I have an opinion one way or the other ;)


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