Because there are more than two candidates, this election will be the first since 1977 to use the UUA’s instant runoff voting provision. Delegates’ second-choice pick may be the deciding factor.
When the General Assembly votes to elect a new Unitarian Universalist Association president on June 24 from among three candidates, delegates will rank the candidates in order of preference to provide for instant runoff in case one candidate doesn’t get the majority of votes.
The three candidates running for one six-year term are the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, the Rev. Alison Miller, and the Rev. Jeanne Pupke. Because there are more than two candidates, this election will be the first since 1977 to use the UUA’s instant runoff voting provision, also called ranked-choice voting, which was added to the bylaws in 1969. Delegates can vote electronically in person at GA, via the internet, or via mail. Votes will be tallied electronically.
Under the ranked-choice voting method, delegates rank the candidates in order of preference: 1, 2, 3. If one candidate wins a majority on the first calculation of ballots, she is elected president. If no one wins a majority, the person with the fewest votes is eliminated. Then, the second choices of her supporters are tallied and given to the remaining candidates. The candidate with the most first- and second-choice votes wins.
For example, let’s assume 200 delegates vote in the election (the actual number of eligible voters is closer to 5,000). Candidate A receives 80 first-place votes, Candidate B receives 70, and Candidate C receives 50. Since no one received a majority—101 votes—the election goes into instant runoff. Candidate C is eliminated since she got the fewest votes. Now, the second-choice preferences of Candidate C’s supporters come into play. Among the 50 who voted for Candidate C, 15 ranked Candidate A as their second choice and 35 did so for Candidate B. Candidate A gets 15 more votes added to the 80 she already had for a total of 95. Candidate B gets 35 more votes added to the 70 she already had for a total of 105. Candidate B is the winner.
For complete election coverage, including candidate profiles, visit uuworld.org/uuavote2017. For additional information, including a 2017 Election Voting FAQ, see uua.org/elections.
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Elaine McArdle is a UU World senior editor and a member of First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. An award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, she has also written for the Boston Globe, Harvard Law Bulletin, and others.
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