Portland State students elected Progressive Slate candidates Courtney Morse and Jesse Bufton for the offices of ASPSU president and vice president by a narrow margin Friday after four days of online voting.
Morse and Bufton received 761 votes, or 51 percent, in the final round of voting, beating out opponents Ryan Klute and Ana Johns, who finished second with 744 votes, and Mario Campbell and Mayela Herrera, who finished third.
The 17-vote margin that determined the winner amounts to just 1 percent of students who voted for a presidential and vice presidential ticket.
Madeline Enos defeated Kayla Goldfarb for the position of Student Fee Committee (SFC) Chair, receiving 736 votes to Goldfarb’s 564.
The president and vice president are the top offices of the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU), the campus student government.
The SFC Chair heads the Student Fee Committee, the arm of student government that oversees the allocation of over $9 million in student incidental fees, to Portland State’s student groups, athletics programs and the Smith Memorial Student Union.
The election results also determined who would fill 22 student senator positions and six SFC member positions. (For a complete listing of candidates and the votes they received, see page four.)
Progressive Slate candidates won five of the six SFC member positions. Moses Otoikhian was the only Klute/Johns slate member to win an SFC spot. The student senate was much more evenly divided, with 12 spots going to Morse/Bufton slate members and 10 going to Klute/Johns slate members. Campbell and Herrera ran alone as presidential and vice presidential candidates and did not assemble a slate.
The president, vice president and senators all take office June 1. The SFC chair and members begin their term July 1. All offices are a one-year term.
Morse and Bufton have said that once in office, their goals include working with the Oregon Student Association to lobby the Oregon legislature on such issues as keeping tuition low and funding the Oregon Opportunity Grant, and promoting sustainability programs on campus at PSU. Their most ambitious goal is to establish more diversity studies programs at PSU, including Native American studies and queer and religious studies.
A total of 1,672 students voted in the election, considerably less than the 2,432 that voted a year ago. For much of the past decade voter turnout had hovered around 6 percent of the student body, but last year about 10 percent voted. The students involved in ASPSU had said in February that they hoped to double voter turnout this year. All students taking at least one credit at PSU are eligible to vote in the elections.
For the first time at Portland State the offices of president and vice president were determined using a voting method called “instant runoff voting,” or “IRV,” approved by student voters last year. Portland State is the first public institution in Oregon to use the method.
In an IRV election, voters rank candidates in order of preference rather than voting for just one. If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote, the instant runoff begins. The candidate who received the least votes is eliminated, and their votes are redistributed between those voters’ second choice candidates. The runoff process continues until a candidate has at least 50 percent of the vote.
The ASPSU constitution says that IRV will be used for determining the offices of president and vice president, who run on a single ticket, and SFC chair. This year, only two candidates ran for SFC chair, so there was no need for IRV to be used. There were three presidential and vice presidential candidates, however, so PSU did get to try out its IRV system for the first time.
In the first round, Morse and Bufton received 697 votes, Klute and Johns received 637 votes and Campbell and Herrera received 300 votes, meaning Campbell and Herrera were eliminated. Of the students who voted for Campbell and Herrera, 64 picked Morse and Bufton as their second choice and 107 chose Klute and Johns, while 129 did not list a second choice.
Friday’s results drew to a close an election season plagued by poor weather, which many candidates said had harmed their ability to campaign on campus because the rain and cold discourage both students and campaigners alike from spending time in popular campaign spots like the Park Blocks.