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The Popular Vote

The Duke Student Government subcommittee on electoral reform met last night to discuss possible alternative methods for electing the next DSG president. Citing the success of the reformed Young Trustee selection process, a panel made up of members of the subcommittee presented the findings of their week-long research.

The first idea attempted to respond to criticisms that candidates for DSG president don’t have the hunger necessary to get their hands dirty and that they are merely looking to pad their resumes. Thus the panel suggested the election process be simplified to a Pauly Dog eating contest. Plans were halted, however, when committee members could not agree which Thing would be the official Pauly Dog of DSG.

The second method presented revolved around the emergence of social media as a replacement for news, entertainment and general human interaction. The panel suggested the candidate with the most followers on Twitter should win. The panel also recommended that Nolan Smith—known on Twitter as @ndotsmitty—count as three followers.

Thirdly, the panel laid out, in great detail, what senators later would call the “committee method.” The plan calls for the current DSG president to select six of his closest advisers to make up the Ensuring Randomness Committee. These six would then go to the Plaza on a random day and time, to be selected by a random-number generator. Blindfolded, the committee would pick 10 people at random. (If a member of the staff is chosen, that person would not count.) This committee would then form the Meta-Nominating Committee, which would further select a Nominating Committee of six members. While the members of the Ensuring Randomness Committee would be allowed to be nominated by the Nominating Committee, members of the Meta-Nominating Committee would not be. Still, everyone involved could add this accomplishment to their respective resumes. This plan, too, fell through after heated debate of whether or not non-unionized staff would be eligible to serve.

After a member of the subcommittee made a passing criticism of President Barack Obama, a well-dressed student proposed a “smoothie party” caucus to be held in Wilson Recreation Center. Candidates would supply a selection of homemade smoothies while making soapbox speeches, all in an attempt to lure undecided voters to their corner of the gym. Unfortunately, Wilson Recreation Center was booked for intramural squash that night.

A final alternative was presented that would award the presidency to the candidate whose name was most often printed in The Chronicle in a given week. Contributing to any section, in any form, would be permitted, as would being interviewed about something a candidate knows little or nothing about. Each subsection of the vague “Letters to the Editor” page would also count, but not as a full vote. Any mention in the crime logs would count double.

After hours of debate the committee voted to hold a popular election to decide which method of election to use. The election referendum will be held four business days before the actual election. Next week’s meeting, the committee announced, will be dedicated to finalizing an election referendum procedure.


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