Last Wednesday, College Council (CC), led by outgoing President Marcus Christian ’16 and incoming co-Presidents Michelle Bal ’17 and Caitlin Buckley ’17 in a transitional meeting, voted to approve two amendments to the CC by-laws. The amendments formalized the decision to count declining to vote as an abstention in CC parliamentary procedure and online election ballots.
Elizabeth Curtis ’17 and Victoria Onuzuruike ’17 comprised the CC Election Supervisory Committee (ESC) as outgoing CC officers. They made the decision to count declining to vote as an abstention in order to pass the 8+4 Honor resolution to amend the Honor Code at the College. The resolution required two-thirds of the student body to vote and two-thirds of voting students to approve it.
With 1315 total votes and 1183 votes in favor, only 64.3 percent of students voted for the resolution, given an enrollment of 2165 students. However, given that 68.8 percent (or numerically, 1489) of students voted on at least one poll during the election period of Feb. 25 to Feb. 27, 92 students who declined to vote on the 8+4 resolution were counted as abstaining votes to achieve the two-thirds quorum.
The Amendment to Article VIII, Section 7 states, “If a Referendum or a Constitutional Amendment on the online election ballot must meet a quorum of the student body in order to pass, the number of students participating in the referendum is derived from the number of students who voted in the online poll, with voters who did not click on the specific Referendum or Constitutional Amendment counting as abstentions.”
In other words, by choosing to participate in one poll, students automatically are considered as abstaining from all other polls.
“We defined voters who participated in the BigPulse online ballot, but who did not click on any option in the 8+4 referendum, as abstentions because they were choosing to withhold their voice from one specific issue on a larger ballot. By choosing to vote in the overall election and see all of the issues on the Big-Pulse screen, they had the direct option to vote in the referendum, and exercised their power to abstain by not voting,” Curtis said.
The ESC stands independent of CC; however, it must abide by laws passed by CC.