Voter turnout declines

By Jeff Goluszka and Sara Blankenheim

Senators campaigned for the first time this semester on Tuesday as elections for the Student Association Senate began.

More than 330 students turned out to vote for their future senators at DuSable Hall, the Holmes Student Center and Founders Memorial Library.

“We’re a little behind last year,” SA elections commissioner Scott DuBay said. “The turnout’s a little lower than we expected.”

Last year’s senate elections netted nearly 800 voters over the two-day polling period.

DuBay said a late start by potential senators contributed to the low turnout.

“This is the least-advertised election I’ve seen since I got here,” he said. “I haven’t seen any campaigning until today.”

At the King Memorial Commons, some candidates and supporters handed out neon fliers with candidates’ names printed on them. Although many fliers were distributed in the MLK Commons, DuSable Hall was the main polling place for students.

The day’s peak voting times were between noon and 4 p.m.; 96 students voted between noon and 2 p.m., and 89 voted from 2 to 4 p.m.

Library voting was the poorest of the three locations, DuBay said. For students who are unsure about who to vote for, DuBay, a sophomore accounting major, offered some suggestions.

“The best thing I can say is ask,” he said. “Most people make their faces seen around campus. Stop by, call in to the SA office. It is student government being elected.”

DuBay explained the significance of the elections.

“If you really care about what goes on on campus, then find out what goes on,” he said. “They decide what organizations on campus get what money. Basically, they’re allocating money to everybody. I’d say they’re pretty important.”

Despite the significance, students’ anti-voting sentiment still is strong.

“I don’t really care who wins,” said Dustin Letterle, a junior pre-communication major.

Yet, students who chose to vote, like junior business major George McFarlan, had very strong feelings behind their decision.

“We need some good people to run the senate, to make sure everything is equal and fair,” he said.

However, a lack of knowledge about the senators played a part in some students’ decision not to vote.

“Well, I’m not familiar with them, so I don’t know what they can do for us,” said Qi Feng, an economics graduate student. “If I knew, maybe I would vote.”

Nick Meiborg, a junior computer science major, thought the same way.

“I don’t know enough about [the election] to vote,” he said.

Although some students are somewhat unsure about the specific reason they’re voting, others vote to show basic interest for the things going on around campus.

“[I voted] just to show some student support,” senior management major Gary Weiner said, “to show the student body cares about issues and what goes on.”

The polls are open again today at 9 a.m. The two-day elections officially end at 6 p.m. Polls are at DuSable Hall, the Holmes Student Center and Founders Memorial Library. If a run-off election is necessary, it will take place on Tuesday.