Senate Committee on Committees and Rules
William Rabinowitz, Chairman
Recommended Change in Standing Rules – Article I, Section 1 (b) – describing procedures to be used in deciding the outcome of elections for Senate Officers.
“Election of officers of the Senate shall be by secret preferential ballot, the preferred candidate being designated by “1,” the next by “2,” and so on. Every candidate on the ballot must be given a preference number; any ballot on which this is not done is invalid. Any candidate receiving a majority of first choices on all ballots shall be elected. If no candidate receives a majority of first choices, the second choices on all valid ballots shall be added to the first choices, and the candidate receiving the most first-choice and second-choice votes on all valid ballots shall be elected. If necessary, subsequent choices shall be added in the same manner until a majority is achieved.”
Professor Rabinowitz explained that these procedures will work quite well when there are only two candidates for a Senate Office and there is no tie. However, if there are more than two candidates or when there is a tie, the procedures become ambiguous and flawed.
Following his presentation, Dr. Rabinowitz moved the adoption of the proposed modification, there was a second and the modification was adopted by the Senate by a voice vote.
The modification and subsequent procedures are printed here for your information and as a point of reference and record.
STANDING RULES – Article I, Section 1 (b)
ELECTION OF OFFICERS OF THE SENATE SHALL BE BY SECRET PREFERENTIAL BALLOT, THE PREFERRED CANDIDATE BEING DESIGNATED BY “1,” THE NEXT BY “2,” AND SO ON. IN COUNTING VOTES THE HARE SYSTEM OF THE SINGLE TRANSFERABLE BALLOT SHALL BE USED. IN THE EVENT OF A TIE, THE RESULTS OF THE ELECTION SHALL BE DETERMINED BY DRAWING LOTS AMONG THE TIED CANDIDATES. (See The Senate Record, March 5, 1974, Vol. 7, No. 8)
Clearly the meaning of this rule depends upon an understanding of what is meant by the “Hare System of the single transferable ballot.” The following procedures apply when counting ballots under this system.
- Sort the ballots, giving each to the candidate marked on it as first choice.
- Set aside as invalid any ballots from which the first choice of the votes cannot be clearly ascertained. Count all other ballots as valid whether they are marked according to instructions or not. If a ballot has a single check mark and no number 1, consider the check mark as an expression of first choice. If the consecutive numerical order of the numbers on a ballot is broken by the omission of one or more numbers, take the smallest number as indicating the first choice, the next smallest the second choice, and so on without regard to the number or numbers omitted.
- Credit each candidate with one vote for every ballot thus sorted to him.
- By adding the numbers of valid ballots of all the candidates, determine the total number of valid ballots cast.
- A majority of the valid ballots cast is required to be elected.
- If after the first count a candidate has received a majority of the ballots, that candidate is declared elected.
- If no candidate is elected after the first count, the candidate receiving the fewest votes is declared defeated.
- The ballots of the defeated candidate are then transferred each to the candidate marked on it as next choice among the candidates not yet defeated.
- Whenever in this or any subsequent transfer, a ballot shows no next choice for a candidate, set it aside as exhausted.
- If after these ballots are distributed, a candidate now has a majority, he is declared elected.
- If no candidate has yet received the necessary votes to win, the candidate having the fewest votes is declared defeated and his ballots are then transferred to the candidate marked on it as next choice among the candidates not yet defeated.
- This procedure of declaring the candidate with the fewest votes defeated and transferring his votes continues until some candidate has a majority or until all candidates but one are defeated. The remaining candidate is elected whether he has a majority or not.