How your OUSA election vote is counted

How your OUSA election vote is counted

For the 10% of you that vote

OUSA Elections are coming up. That means you have an exciting opportunity to use the best voting system and exercise your right to elect representatives to spend your student loan. Here’s how it works. 

The voting method used in OUSA elections is Single Transferable Vote (STV). This is the same method used to elect the Dunedin Mayor, Dunedin City Council members, and the Australian Senate. It is a proportional system in which the final representation of members is based on the percentage of votes they received. 

STV involves ranking the candidates from your most to least favourite. There’s also a “no confidence” option.

Once everyone’s votes are cast, votes are counted based on first preference (that’s your favourite person, who you voted for as number one). If one candidate meets the 50% quota from the first preference votes, or the number one candidate on your form, they’re automatically elected. 

If no one gets a majority based on first preference votes, the candidate with the lowest number of first preference votes is eliminated. Then the second preference votes are divided between the remaining candidates. This goes on until a candidate reaches the 50% quota. If a candidate you prefer is already eliminated, your preference skips to the next one (e.g. if your number one and two candidates are eliminated, the vote goes to your number three).

Giving any or all candidate(s) the no confidence vote means that your vote will not go to them at any point. Also, if a candidate fails to meet the 50% quota of total votes cast, including no confidence votes, then no candidate will be elected.

For example, let’s say Bogan Josh, Lorde, the Better-Looking Bill and Horn Beezy are all contesting for OUSA President.

If the Better-Looking Bill wins 69% (nice) of first preference votes, he’s automatically elected as he meets the 50% quota. If no candidate wins more than 50% of votes, the one with the least first preference votes (Bogan Josh with 3%) is eliminated. All of Bogan Josh’s voters chose the Better-Looking Bill as their second preference, thus their votes goes to the Better-Looking Bill who now has 49% of votes (from the 46% first preference votes AND the 3% of second preference votes from the Bogan Josh voters). 

The next loser is then eliminated, in this case Lorde with 6% of votes. A third of her voters chose Horn Beezy as their second preference and their votes then go to Mr Beezy. Another third chose the Better-Looking Bill and the last third voted no confidence. Thus, the Better-Looking Bill is now elected with 51% of the vote and Horn Beezy loses at 47%.

STV was adopted in 2013 following a student-wide referendum. Before then, the OUSA used First Past the Post (FPP) to elect the candidates. FPP is still used as the electorate vote in the New Zealand Parliament, and was the method used before party votes were introduced in 1996.

FPP is different (and arguably, worse) as you only get one tick instead of ranking the candidates. With this method, the candidate with the most ticks wins, even if they have less than 50% of the vote. 

This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2021.
Posted 1:25pm Monday 16th August 2021 by Gerry Mander.