Elections see low turnout, mixed senior class council
Student Union’s spring elections, which were mostly uncontested, saw decreased voter turnout from last year and, for the second year in a row, resulted in a mixed-slate Senior Class Council.
According to election commissioner and sophomore Jodi Small, 1,690 of the 6,335 eligible students voted, yielding a voter turnout of about 27 percent.
Only two of the elections were contested—the Treasury representative elections, in which 11 candidates ran for nine available seats, and the senior class council elections.
Senior Julian Nicks, current SU president, cited the lack of competition as the reason for the low percentage of students who voted.
“[Treasury] was the only contested thing unless you were a junior. So for a lot of people, it was like, ‘Why vote? I don’t really have a voice,’” Nicks said. “I think that naturally caused probably morale and likely voting to go down tremendously by itself.”
Small, who was confirmed as election commissioner Feb. 27, also pointed to her short timeframe as an obstacle to publicizing the election.
“A normal election commissioner would…have more time to promote the election itself, to get more people involved. I think that coming in a week before [elections] was a bit short notice, so I think it was just hard to get the word out,” Small said.
Both Nicks and Small also noted the absence of a vote on block funding, which was moved to the fall ballot this year, as a possible factor in decreasing voter turnout.
“A lot of people aren’t motivated to vote unless they have a particular thing they’re interested in voting for, so maybe the lack of block funding left out some student interest,” Small said.
Despite the elimination of six Senate seats throughout 2012, a move that Senate hoped would promote competitive elections, Arts & Sciences, Art and Architecture each had fewer candidates than seats to be filled, with the latter two having no candidates.
The ArtSci seat was filled by junior Wendelyn Oswald, who ran a write-in campaign leading up to the election, while write-ins Andrew Miller, a senior, and Kevin George, a freshman, received the most votes for the Architecture and Art seats, respectively, with George receiving just two votes.
“We as an organization have some trouble reaching out to people, making them interested, making them realize what an impact they can have if they were senators,” junior Leigha Empson, who was re-elected as an ArtSci senator, said.
Empson also emphasized the importance of competitive elections.
“I hope more people run next time. I think competition forces the people with the best ideas to come out on top, and I hope that in the future we can find a way to get more people to run,” Empson said.
Although not listed on the ballot, junior Sean Dula, who began his write-in campaign for SU president from abroad on Tuesday, garnered 17.69 percent of the presidential votes to Progress Slate candidate Matt Re’s 77.26 percent.
“Sean [Dula] ran a great write-in campaign, and if he is at all interested in pursuing his goals in SU in a different capacity, then I’d be happy to sit down [with him] and talk about what he thinks are the most pertinent issues affecting students,” Re said.
The rest of Progress Slate, sophomores Michael Land and Nick Palermo and junior Liz Hay were elected to the executive board.