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Commentary: New voting procedures for University Senate and Faculty Assembly elections

by Linda Ade-Ridder for the elections subcommittee of the governance committee of University Senate

Web-based voting procedures for University Senate and Faculty Assembly elections will begin with this year’s elections. This is now the only way a Faculty Assembly member will be able to vote. The processes for evaluating administrators will also soon change to an Internet-based system of data collection. The students in the department of computer sciences and systems analysis designed this new system as part of their capstone experience over the course of the past academic year. Professor Tom Schaber has continued to fine-tune their work in conjunction with MCIS personnel and with the election administrator.

Moving to Web-based voting and data collection procedures will have several distinct advantages over the old paper ballot system:

1) it will minimize human errors (transcription errors on ballots or in entering data from them, lost ballots, etc.);

2) it will significantly decrease the numbers of people and hours of time involved in each process;

3) it will increase the integrity of the election/data collection process;

4) it will eliminate the enormous waste of paper that occurred in all previous elections, and

5) it is expected to significantly increase participation which, in the past, has been as low as 5 percent of eligible faculty voting in an election.

New election procedures

Election processes will not change. Each election will continue to have a nomination round followed by an election round. The single-transferable vote method of data analysis will continue to be used in the electronic voting system (see explanation elsewhere in The Miami Report). Faculty will continue to be able to remove their names from eligibility if they do not wish to be considered for election to a particular election. It will be very important AND VERY EASY for faculty to remove their names WHEN ASKED IN ADVANCE if they are not able or willing to serve.

For each election, faculty eligible to stand for a particular election will receive an electronic mail message notifying them of the upcoming election and asking them to indicate whether or not they are willing to serve if elected. After those willing to serve have been identified, eligible voters will receive an electronic mail message announcing the beginning of the nomination election round and inviting them to nominate candidates for the final election. By clicking on the web link in the e-mail message, the voter’s computer will be sent to the electronic voting booth. Voters will be required to log in using their university assigned unique ID (eight letters) and standard password. A list of those willing and eligible to be candidates will appear. Simply by clicking on candidate names, the voters select those they wish to nominate or elect. Once names are selected, the voter can change the rank ordering. The voter is given a final opportunity to review her/his rank-ordered votes before submitting the ballot. Once the ballot has been submitted, it is irretrievable. The computer program prevents any tracking about how any individual votes. Voters will have five days to cast ballots. The single transferable voting method will automatically be applied to the votes cast prior to the deadline. The election round will then begin immediately with another five-day voting period. Voters will be notified by e-mail and again will be transported to the voting booth by clicking on the link in the e-mail. At the conclusion of the election, all voters for that election will be notified of the winner/s. Election results will also be available on the University Senate website.

Trial election – please participate!

In order to give everyone an opportunity to try this new system before we hold our first mandated election, we will have a trial election very shortly. All Faculty Assembly members are invited, indeed encouraged, to participate in this special election. All regular election procedures will be followed. The criteria for nomination/election are entirely up to you! All members of Faculty Assembly are eligible to participate in voting and to be voted upon. The nomination round will identify 15 nominees; the election round will elect five winners. Each winner will receive two free tickets to any cultural, fine arts, or sport home event this academic year (the best seating possible given prior reservations), courtesy of the Provost’s Office. Your participation will help you learn about the new system, and it will provide us with a final system-wide test. Later this fall, the first actual election will replace three members of the Evaluation of Administrators Committee. Next spring, the Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities will be elected. At-Large Senators will also be elected in addition to replacing one-third of the Graduate Council members.

Questions or concerns (now or at any time) should be directed to: Linda Ade-Ridder, Elections Subcommittee of the Governance Committee of University Senate: or call 9-8515.

Date Published: 10/04/2001
Volume: 21   Number: 10


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