SA election reform first

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April 2, 2010

2:01 AM

We’d like to congratulate all the Student Assembly candidates elected to office in last Wednesday’s election, especially Chrissy Scott ’11 and Kaveh Sadeghian ’12 for their wins as student body president and vice-president, respectively. The student body clearly spoke, and we look forward to the start of your term next fall. But there are a few things we’d like to see happen once you get there.

You ran a campaign based on “The Student Voice.” Well, here’s ours.

Now that campaigning is over, we’d like to see your executive set specific goals for the upcoming year, especially in areas not addressed by your platform. Holding a student body-wide forum in order to hear from as wide a range of students as possible would be a great way to pursue such goals. Furthermore, we hope that your executive positions are filled promptly and advertised in a manner as to attract the most knowledgeable and dedicated students in their respective issue areas. We’d also hope that essential time over summer break is well spent — talking with your executive staff and the appropriate administrators as well as preparing drafts of potential legislation — in order to ensure the SA can get down to business as soon as students return. Lastly, let’s find a way to end SA election errors once and for all (for some ideas on that problem, see below).

Again this year, the presence of glitches with the SA election website mars what is an otherwise admirable electoral cycle. It would be bad enough if this were a first occurrence, but these “technical difficulties” are ones that have, in one form or another, recurred for every SA election in recent memory.

E-mails with students’ randomly generated personal logins were sent to every student at 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. The last of these e-mails didn’t arrive until 11 p.m. Wednesday night, an hour before polls closed and an hour after they were supposed to close — before having thankfully been extended. Allowing some students only an hour at the very end of the day to vote is irresponsible, to say the least. Sending an e-mail to almost 7,000 students seems like a large undertaking, until you realize that surveys, such as the Housing Selection Survey, that require logins are regularly sent out by e-mail to the entire student body.

In remedying this problem, the SA should go beyond merely seeking yet another online voting service. Instead, be proactive. Ask student governments from other universities what systems they use and what problems they’ve had. Then, sometime before the big day, try testing the system on a vote where the stakes are slightly lower. A simple poll (what should your student government members wear for Halloween?) could easily do the trick.

Now of course we like our SA elections exciting and unpredictable, but that’s best left to the candidates themselves. It’s high time we removed the added volatility of voting quirks from the mix.

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