We're fond of a very strange electoral system in this country. It's the kind of system where voters go out in support of a candidate, and if he or she only gets 49 percent of the vote, nearly half of the district feels like their views are not being represented. I'm not saying it's an absolutely horrible system, but it's certainly strange.

On the national level at least, I think that this system makes some sense. I'm a New Yorker, and let's hypothetically say that you're a New Yorker too. Maybe we disagree on politics, but we're both part of the same community, so it makes sense that Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand represent both of us. It's the same with Congressional representatives. As a resident of the Village of East Hills, my experience growing up was fundamentally similar to the experience of other residents of Long Island's North Shore—and therefore fundamentally different from the experience of those living on the South Shore. It's logical then that one congressman represents the North Shore and another represents the South Shore.

The logic of this system breaks down, however, on the local and state level. The limitations of the system cannot be ignored when the districts are too small to represent anything close to a coherent community.

Look at the state or local districting map of any urban or semi-urban area—it's obscene. Half of one block votes in one district while the other half votes in another. Turn right and you're in the first district. Left and you're in the second district. As a group, the people of one district are no different than the people in their neighboring districts. It's silly to think that the people of the neighboring districts have such varied interests that they need different representatives.

More specifically, look at our Bowdoin community. On the state level, our small campus is split between two representatives in the Maine State House. On the local level, our campus is even more sliced and diced. It is simply wrong that all Bowdoin students cannot vote in the same local elections.

With the recent completion of the 2010 census—and statewide redistricting just around the corner—we have a rare opportunity to fix this problem. Under the current local electoral system, Brunswick is divided into seven districts, one for each of the seven members of the Town Board. Brunswick's town charter should be amended to have a proportional electoral system.

What this would mean is that everyone eligible to vote inside the town of Brunswick would choose from the same pool of candidates. Instead of two candidates running for one office in each of seven districts, 14 candidates would run to fill seven town-wide seats. Each of the seven most popular candidates would win a seat on the Town Board. All of them would represent the entire Brunswick community.

With this system, there would be no elections where one candidate was favored by a significant percentage of the electorate and still lose. This new system would also give Bowdoin a stronger voice in local politics. Currently, we are divided and weak—this is no accident. Drawing district lines is highly political. A single Bowdoin voting block, not one divided between several districts like in the current system, would be strong and effective. In Waterville, where the electoral system is not stacked against Colby, a Colby student is elected to the Town Board almost every election cycle.

It's easy to write off what I'm proposing by dismissing local politics as "unimportant." But was it unimportant last year when, just weeks before Ivies, the Brunswick Town Board passed an ordinance banning live music outdoors after dark? That's why there wasn't a band at Pinefest. That's also why there wasn't a band at Pinestock this semester.

The relationship between Brunswick and the College is not always perfect. Calling the Brunsick Police Department on Pinefest was just plain unneighborly. Instead of acting rashly and calling for Bowdoin students to boycott Brunswick, we should act more constructively. If we reform Brunswick's electoral system, Bowdoin students will have a voice in the community. And that is how it should be.

Sam Vitello is a member of the Class of 2013.