This Semester marks a lot of changes for the Freethinkers of UTA. Our organization has made incredible, perhaps even unrealistic, strides in a very short amount of time. As far back as anyone in the group can remember with the history of the group, the following things weren’t implemented:
- Democracy for Officer positions
- A “search engine standard violation-free” website
- An up-to-date, up-to-standard website in general
- A blog for easily accessible documentation of changes and information
- A shift in how bettering the Constitution works
- Suggestions and Bugs!
So, let me run down these things and you just read what you want based on the titles, and I’ll do it from shortest section to longest section, so you don’t have to scroll as much to get to what you want.
All that website stuff
I already made a post about that on the old blog.
Oh, so that’s everything?
Well, no, there’s also now a way to submit suggestions and report bugs, which you’ll find on the left sidebar on the main website if you go RIGHT NOW. It should also be on the right sidebar of the blog, so you don’t really have to bother leaving. Please stay.
A shift in how bettering the Consititution works
We used to have this position, right? It was called “Constitution Committee.” We had a committee of people assigned to look at the Constitution and think of ways to improve it and suggest it to the Officers. Zach, our Public Relations Manager, thought “but why? I mean, anyone can suggest things about the Constitution. Why don’t we just have a day where we do this and let anyone come in?”
And so, he managed to make the improvement of the Constitution more inclusive and we just had to have a position for managing these meetings and filtering out ideas and keeping track of the best ones based on their own judgement.
And so, “Constitution Committee Manager” was born, a position that decides whether or not it’s worthy to have a meeting about the Constitution. Once at least one of them decide it is, they coordinate a meeting with the Event Coordinator and people meet up and discuss what the CCM wants. Good show!
Democracy for Officer positions
If you’re a Current Member of the Freethinkers as of the writing of this post, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that there have been elections. There were speeches by the candidates, there were e-mails, there were Facebook messages from me nagging everyone, the election was EVERYWHERE, it was unavoidable.
Now, this post is obviously up for correction, but when I investigated by asking all the current members to think as far back as they could and tell me how Officer positions were selected, it seemed like there wasn’t any democracy process involving the members of the group at any point, or at least as far back as people remembered, so I got bored one day and figured that “creating democracy” would be a nice way to kill time, so I went ahead and got permission to do that and I did it. It’s worth noting that others had brought up similar concerns, saying that they felt that the Officer positions weren’t “advertised” enough and the voting process wasn’t very inclusive to the point that it was essentially assigning positions.
So, how did our first election go?
Not perfect. There were problems that NOBODY saw coming (or problems they foresaw and just decided to not tell anyone about). After doing “research” (Wikipedia and DuckDuckGoing and contacting any political science majors that happened to be within my vicinity at the time), I came up with a voting system I thought was the best for our group. It’s not glamorous at all, but practical usually never is fancy, it was a plurality voting system for all the positions simultaneously. The opposing system that we discussed, suggested by Zachary Fountain, our Public Relations Manager, was a system I’m not sure there’s a name for. It was just plurality-sequential…I’ll explain it in detail in a bit.
So, your simultaneous plurality system, what’s that mean?
Plurality is what we use in the United States. Whoever gets the most votes. It doesn’t even have to be the majority. Just the most. And what do I mean by simultaneous? Surely, I don’t really mean everyone votes for each position at the same time. By that, I mean a form is given with all the positions in a random order and all the candidates in a random order, and a vote is cast in whichever order the voter chooses, and they have one vote for each position.
What about the opposing…plurality-sequential system?
It’s a little complicated. Essentially, the positions would be ranked somehow (we hadn’t figured out the details of his system, we just knew they’d be ranked), and then plurality voting for each position in order of that rank. Oh, I guess that wasn’t so difficult to explain.
So, why did everyone agree to go with your system, Cave? It looks like it took more words to explain and is the more complicated one, therefore more fancy, and less practical by your logic.
Christ, that’s a long sentence. Well, my system didn’t eliminate candidates from certain positions simply because they were ranked. So you wouldn’t have people in positions that weren’t their best position simply because we did things by rank and everyone voted who they thought was the best for the position that was put right in front of them. Confusing? Let me explain it with a hypothetical.
Imagine there are positions 1-5, and there are candidates A-E for every position. Let’s say we rank the positions in numerical order.
So we make people vote for position 1. Who’s the best for position 1? Well, candidate C! That’s the problem, because now everyone is voting who’s the best for that position, not what’s best for that candidate, so candidate C might do best in position 3, but because position 1 came first, the candidate is now in a position that they aren’t the best in. You could tell people to take that into consideration when they vote, but that means they’d have to caucus to make sure they don’t end up with NO good candidates by position 3. It gets complicated for the voters, even if it does simplify things for those holding the election.
So, you went with plurality?
Yes. And ranked voting, which is basically an upvote-downvote system like you see on Reddit or Cracked or YouTube or any website ever.
In the field of voting systems (social choice theory), this is officially known as a Cardinal Voting System, where everyone gets to rate the candidates with at least 2 levels. 2 levels is known as an approval voting system. I gave everyone 3 levels: Approval; Disapproval; Undecided. I let the Cardinal Voting System go with positions where multiple candidates could win and I let the plurality system go with the positions where only one could win.
But…wait a minute, what about candidates winning multiple positions!?
We had each candidate ranked by the votes they got for each position. If someone gets first for multiple positions, they get to choose the position they want, and if they have no preference, it’s decided by whichever position they got the highest percentage of votes for relative to the corresponding percentages for the other positions.
So, how was it not perfect?
The problems that nobody had foreseen became clear to us all when the results came in. For a few select positions, those who got first place won by a landslide. This means that the others behind them had a far smaller sample for potential voters, and this meant less reliable representation of what the people want if the runner up got a position.
It also meant that those who voted someone for first place didn’t necessarily want the person who got second place to be the runner up. The voting just wasn’t representative of the voters when it came to whoever got second place. Confusing? Here’s an example.
Say there are 100 people voting for one position and there are 5 candidates (our old buddies, A to C!). They get ranked by votes, A, B, C, D, and E is the result. Now, let’s say 80 of those people voted A. Landslide! 7 voted B, 6 voted C, 4 voted D, and 3 voted E. Now, let’s say that if A weren’t a choice, 83 would have voted E, 7 would have voted B, 6 for C, and 4 for D.
As you can see, by a LANDSLIDE, the majority of the people want E the second most of the candidates, and yet E got last place by my system. That’s the problem with plurality voting.
So, what? Revote or…?
No, we’re just going to change it for the future. In the future, we won’t do plurality at all (if we do, it won’t be the choice of the current members). We’re going to do a rated system like we did for the multiple-winner positions, but for ALL the positions. We’re still going to rank everyone the same. Hopefully, if there’s something wrong with this, someone will point it out this time because last time, we only had 2 weeks. This time, we have until next election. Nearly 6 months. Get on it, people. Analyze.
Cave Intee Forwin knows nothing about politics or social choice theory and does not understand one single bit why he was put in charge of starting starting democracy because he has done that literally zero times before in his life.
For some of the other posts that he wrote on this blog, check out literally any single post up to this point. Also, he was voted Vice President by a landslide, so that’s proof that something has gone horribly wrong with the system.