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Monday, November 28, 2022 — Houston, TX

Student Association's voting procedures lacking

By Staff Editorial     2/22/12 6:00pm

The 2012 Student Association General Election had its lowest turnout since 2002. The bleak 28 percent student participation portrays the undergraduate student body in the unflattering light of apathy, but the problem of low voter turnout lies with the SA as well.

The poor turnout is likely the result of the growing rift between the SA and its constituents. Further exacerbating the problem is the fact that most of the major positions were either uncontested or poorly contested aside from a vivid presidential front-runner. The lack of quality candidates and solid choices provided students another reason not to vote in the election.

A priority of the newly elected SA government should be bridging the perceived gap between students and the government. Efforts should be taken to involve students on the whole rather than just cross-sectional committees in important decisions, and the SA should better advertise the manners in which it affects day-to-day student life in order to increase SA interest among the undergraduate population.

The SA can also seek to improve the voting process and further motivate students to vote in several ways. Election season needs to be more broadly advertised. Just as the candidates canvas campus with campaign materials, the SA needs to spread the word about voting with posters, flyers, window paintings and banners. The SA should also more effectively utilize social-media advertising.

An alternative to the current voting system would be moving students to vote in person in their college commons--as is done in college elections. Non-partisan SA personnel would have to man the voting area at each college, but the high visibility of voting stations in commons during meal times would dramatically escalate voter participation.

If the SA is not keen on such a major change to its election methodology, it can maintain online voting, but it should strive to improve voter turnout via the residential colleges. The SA could fund an SA voting study break at each college across the university. The study break could be organized by college senators and serve as a centralized effort to get students to vote.

The Thresher strongly encourages the SA to overhaul its elections procedures in an effort to include more students; the greater the student participation, the more effective our student government can be.

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