Elections for next year’s student government are already getting into motion here at Portland State.

Elections for next year’s student government are already getting into motion here at Portland State. Last month, the election board was established to oversee the next round of elections, but with the troubles and overall low student-voter turnout of years past, it may be beneficial to look at how we can work out the kinks in our own student democracy.

Experimental as it may be, Portland State should take a stab at e-democracy, refine the voting system and stake a claim on what could be an ideological overthrow of past sensibilities that govern democratic rule, starting with ASPSU.

Standardized bids, I say. What’s that, you may ask? It is democracy, the most misinterpreted subject in contemporary American politics. It’s a method to reach the best deal for everyone. We currently view democracy as one vote, one person. But I argue that Portland State should take up an “x candidates, x votes” per person method, in order of preference. So, in other words, you get as many votes as there are candidates, placing them in order of favorite to least favored.

Mathematics aside, it may be worth the read.

Although the concept has been ridiculed across the board for perhaps decades, now we have the technology to handle it. A recent publication by Pintér and Veszteg, titled “Minority Versus Majority: An Experimental Study on Standardized Bids,” remarks that the plurality voting system—the one held from ASPSU to the highest government entities such as the executive branch—”may fail to provide a socially efficient decision as a majority can outvote any minority even if the majority’s gain does not compensate the loss suffered by the minority.”

In simple terms, the demographic that votes and forms a majority may in fact dissuade the minority from participating in voting in general, due to the perceived fact that they will win no matter what.

It’s called Duverger’s Law. That is to say, when one candidate must get a plurality or majority of votes, those vying for the position will naturally synthesize into two, separate and polarizing ideological spectrums. Standardized bids offer an alternative formulation of competition.

Unlike the simple paper ballot system, we have computers. A program could easily handle such a proposition, and perhaps we should take our voting to Blackboard, Desire 2 Learn or whatever the hell we are using nowadays. Imagine if instead of placing a paper ballot stocked full with ultimatums, one could simply log in, insert a pdx.edu e-mail and choose our localized power-holders by preferential order. Would that lead to a more “general consensus” ideal of elected officials, rather than an intense dichotomy? According to Pintér and Vezteg, the answer is yes, provided that enough people participate in regards to both elections and votes.

Mind you, the idea of standardized bids is purely experimental, but the idea of e-democracy has been under development for some time. Perhaps we live in a political bubble, like San Francisco, but our young generation of habitual bloggers and meme-fanatics have one thing in common: social networks. However much I am adverse to the idea of Facebook (I deleted mine as a New Year’s resolution due to the lack of privacy), social media is a powerful unifying force. Even if it is considered subversive in certain North-African countries, such as Tunisia, Egypt and soon Lybia, its values underlie a movement of anonymous, secret ballots of viewing choices on the Internet, innovative pragmatics and, potentially, a hive for an e-democratic revolution, at least outside the bounds of Portland State. But why not within?

So why don’t we make fundamental changes to the way we perceive democracy and how it should really work? Perhaps some dank patriotism holds us hostage with the ideals of our forebears, a two and a half-century old method of communicating electoral preference. The modern world is upon us, and with it we have the means to carry out greater methods of elections. We can do it here at PSU. ?