September 28, 2016

Director of Student Engagement expected more from SGA fall elections

This fall, students flooded the polls by the dozens. Two dozen to be exact.

On Sept. 25, Webster University’s Student Government Association (SGA) closed the polls for their fall elections at midnight.

Four at-large senate positions were up for grabs with four students running. One opening for the senator of the school of education was available with one student running. And two senate positions for the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts were available with no one running.

This meant that all students running for office won, regardless of the votes.Therefore, a total of 24 students cast votes that did not decide anything.

Director of Student Engagement Jennifer Stewart said the lack of turnout, both in voting and in running, has been an issue for the fall elections because the positions do not have the power of some executive positions.

“[Fall elections] are typically the smaller of the two elections, and most of the positions that students mark as goals are elected in the spring,” Stewart said. “The fall positions are for freshman of transfer students who wouldn’t have a chance to run in the [previous] spring.”

The SGA spread the word about running for the vacant positions by sending mass emails, putting fliers in the orientation packets, posting on the events page and using social media. Even with the state of the races, Stewart expected more people to vote.

Last fall, when there were only enough candidates to fill the vacancies, 102 votes were cast. Stewart said the voting turnout has been surprisingly low for each of the past two elections.

“I don’t know what will make people vote or not vote,” Stewart said. “Last spring [we had a ballot issue about raising the student activity fee] and a full slate of races for executive positions and we had an average turnout.”

Although the new positions were filled by the only available candidates –  Scott Lunte, Alexy Irving, Alexander Brosseau, and Kevin Loving for the at large positions and Jasmine Ball-Williams for the school of education position – Stewart said all of the new officers are doing well in the short time they have held office.

As for the positions left vacant, according to the SGA Constitution, the active president of SGA will appoint senators which will be voted on by the active elected members of SGA.

In addition to increasing the voting in SGA elections, the SGA wanted to increase student participation in local elections by holding a voter registration party earlier in the semester.

The informational event informed students of how to get registered to vote if they are from another state, city or county. Twenty people attended the event and were educated on the steps necessary to change voter information including address, SGA Director of Communications Nicole Griffin said.

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