On May 31, the KAIST International Students Association (KISA) held its inaugural Open Forum event. The event provided a platform for KISA members to respond to questions asked by KAIST’s international student community. KISA cabinet members and division heads took the stage in the International Center’s Multipurpose Hall (W2-1) and responded to questions from the assembled audience and the KISA Voice webpage. The forum provided an opportunity for the candidates of the 2019 KISA presidential election to engage with their constituents, and after the main forum was finished, the event turned into a candidate’s debate, moderated by a member of KISA’s electoral board.
During the debate, the moderator asked the candidates about their vision for KISA’s future, centering around opinions on former President Shubhranil Sengupta’s structural reforms. Candidates were asked how they felt about the reforms, and if they would push further or hold back when in office.
The debate was the first of its kind in recent history, symptomatic of the unique nature of the 2019 KISA presidential elections. For the first time in three years, there were multiple candidates contending for the position of KISA president, and the election was the first to require the formation of an “electoral board” as specified in Article V of the KISA Constitution, which was only ratified this May.
This year’s elections have seen KISA adopt a new system of voting. Votes were recorded through a mix of online and offline systems and distributed through a preferential First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system. This system requires voters to rank candidates in preference order. It then counts votes through multiple “rounds”, where the candidate with the lowest percentage of the vote is eliminated and has their votes redistributed according to the preferences listed on the ballot. This produces two “official counts”; a count of first preferences, which shows the number of first preference positions won by each candidate, and a preferred count, which shows the final tally after votes have been distributed.
The system of recording votes has changed compared to those from past elections, which were conducted either via email or at booths on campus. Under the 2019 system, international student votes were recorded on an online form available on KISA’s new website, while KISA cabinet member votes were recorded through a physical ballot.