SA hopes to double voter turnout in upcoming elections


By Kierra Frazier

DeKALB — The Student Association is looking to double voter turnout in this year’s elections. Students are being advised to vote in this upcoming SA election at the end of March because SA leaders said it affects them in more ways than they think.
SA elections are held every spring and land on March 26 and 27 this year. Elections are open to anyone who has a Z-ID. 
Students will have the opportunity to ask candidates questions and see why they’re running at the Meet the Candidates event 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday at the Campus Life Building in Room 100. 
The day before elections, March 25, executive members will participate in a head-to-head debate. 
Voting opens at 9 a.m. March 26 on HuskieLink and at voting locations around campus including DuSable Hall and Barsema Hall. Voting stations will close at 4:30 p.m. March 27 but will remain open until 5 p.m. on HuskieLink. Results are expected to be announced within 48 hours.
Sandra Puebla, Board of Elections chairperson, said it’s important students vote in the election because the SA controls the students’ money.
“The SA controls $1.5 million in student fee money, and so that’s your money that the SA is working with,” Puebla said. “The SA uses that money for programming and events and different services such as Campus Activities Board. So it’s really [students’] money being put to use.”
Puebla also said the SA is trying to double student voter turnout from 1,500 students to 3,000 students by talking to all of the departments on campus.

“We’ve put up flyers everywhere so professors know what’s going on, and they can even announce it to their classes,” Puebla said. “The SA is working really hard coming up with creative new ways, partnering up with other organizations, so they can promote the elections through their social media.”

Election Commissioner Brandon Lesnicki said the SA deals with issues such as advocacy for undocumented students, advocacy for mental health, research into food waste in the dining halls, work on the bus merger with the city of DeKalb and work with state legislators to call for an end to the state budget impasse. He said all of these issues deal with students in one way or another which is why students should vote.

“We should be a reflection of the core values of the student body,” Lesnicki said. “The more people there are to vote, the more likely we are to see those values being reflected by the SA.”

Speaker of the Senate Tristan Martin said elections are one of the most important events the SA hosts during the academic year.

“The selection and qualifications of people running in elections is what will be possibly represented during the next school year — this is important because if people do not vote accordingly, they may be stuck with someone they otherwise wouldn’t have supported,” Martin said.

Prior to being qualified for the election, students had to attend a candidates meeting in February.

To be eligible for candidacy, students must acquire at least 300 signatures if running for executive office and 50 signatures for Senate. Martin also said a student’s vote impacts everyone within the NIU community, not just the student body.

“The leadership elected during elections will represent the student body to administration in the upcoming year, working directly with upper administration such as [NIU] President Freeman on a weekly basis.”

Puebla said SA leaders sit in important meetings with Freeman, the provost and the University Council as representatives for the students.

Puebla also said the meetings are important because they are where university officials decide things like future enrollment plans, what department should hire new faculty, who deserves more resources and improvements to residence halls.

She said if students have issues they feel need to be addressed on campus, then voting would be beneficial for them.

“Voting for someone who has your best interest in mind is crucial,” Puebla said. “If you want to see change, or if you want your community to get more representation, then you have to vote.”