Post Classifieds

Low interest in freshmen elections

By Lizzie Glaser
On September 28, 2011

Due to the low amount of interest from freshmen in the first year senate elections, the Board of Elections has decided to add two write-in ballots to the election ticket this year.

"Generally speaking, our voter trends are down," Board of

Elections Chair Nate Fischer said. "We work with voter participation, but there's only so many things you can do to promote something. You can put flyers in every wing of Alter Hall and big posters up in Gallagher [Student Center], but as students are more spread out across campus because

of the new developments, you're not going to get as much student traffic in those places. There's not much left we can do." While traditionally the ticket only features one

space for write-in-candidates, this year there are only

two eligible candidates running for election, leaving two

vacant senate spots for first-year students. The four senate vacancies allotted for freshmen will be filled by the four students receiving the highest number of votes, meaning

that the open senate seats could potentially go to all write-in candidates, even though there are two eligible candidates on the ballot. "Because students have four

votes for the election, allowing two places for write-in candidates is the fairest way to conduct this specific election," Fischer said. Voting began today at 8 a.m.

and will continue until 4 p.m. on Thursday. Any student, both graduate and undergraduate, is eligible to vote. The names of write-in candidates must be spelled correctly or the votes are nullified. Once the polling locations close, the Board of Elections will tally the results and verify them with Dr. Luther Smith, dean of students. Smith will call any write-in

candidates and ask them to accept the position, and the newly-elected Senators will begin their terms on Monday.

In order to be eligible for senate elections, students must attend one of several informational meetings, get 100 signatures of their peers supporting their candidacy, attend at least one senate meeting confirmed by senate Legislative Vice President Brock McMorran and be available for meetings between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday afternoons. Because write-in candidates do not formally campaign, they do not need to meet all these requirements.

They are only required to be in good academic standing

and be available for meetings on Monday afternoons.

Despite this disinterest in senate elections from the freshmen class, the Student Government Association (SGA) is not discouraged. "We had 40 to 60 people

sign up on Club Day to whom we sent personal e-mails and 13 attended our informational meetings," Senate Coordinator Seth Walsh said. The Board of Elections and

SGA actually improved election promotions this year, sending out personal e-mails and Facebook events as well distributing flyers about the informational sessions.

"We put more effort into trying to get people to run this year, but unfortunately it doesn't seem to have paid off," Walsh said. "The interest just wasn't there." In contrast, the Student

Activities Council (SAC) had 18 applicants for only eight positions, and likewise eight people applied for the three senate vacancies left by the resignation of write-in candidates early in the year. "The interest in SGA is still there, so [senate] is going to re-evaluate what we need to do," Walsh said. "We're in the early stages of deciding what to do for spring [election] recruitment, and what we decide will be based on what we discover as to why there was a poor turnout this time." Fischer speculates that the low interest level is a result of a shift in student priorities due to

the economy. "So many students are trying to finish school in three years to save money, or are working part-time or full-time jobs to pay for their education. They are more focused on other things. It's not just SGA that's suffering;

there's low involvement all around," Fischer said.

SGA will also be working closely with the Board of Elections to update the election code as part of its triennial revision. The new code, which should be completed by the end of November, will adapt the election process to the new physical and technological developments on campus.


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