February 26, 2001

Student Candidates To Be Named Today

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Let the campaigning begin.

At 5 p.m. today, Cornellians will know who the candidates are in the Student Assembly (S.A.) spring elections. The official announcement of the S.A. candidates will occur directly before a meeting with the candidates at 5 p.m. in the International Lounge of Willard Straight Hall (WSH).

The candidates will be briefed on election rules, and it is the “first time people will have an idea of who the competition is,” said David Mahon ’01, director of elections and a student-elected trustee.

The meeting marks the “opening of the gates” for campaigning, which starts as soon as the meeting ends, according to Mahon.

The elections for student-elected trustee coincide with the elections for S.A. positions. The announcement of the trustee candidates will occur at 4:30 p.m. today in the International Lounge, according to Prof. William E. Fry, a faculty trustee and chair of the Trustee Nominating Committee.

“We’ll go over the specifics of campaigning,” Fry said. The candidates are competing for the seat of Mahon, whose two-year term will expire in May.

The trustee candidates will also attend an educational session at 5 p.m. Friday, “to inform them more about what is involved in being a trustee,” according to Fry.

Elections are on March 6 and 7.

Candidates for both the S.A. elections and trustee elections will have less time to publicize their views and platforms this year.

“Last year we had more time to campaign,” Mahon said.

According to S.A. President Uzo Asonye ’02, the campaign period was shortened by five school days. Reasons for the change include cost, environmental impacts, and stress on the candidates and the campus.

With fewer days to campaign, candidates won’t use as much paper for fliers, Asonye said.

“The student body doesn’t want to be bombarded with elections materials,” Mahon said.

“It [also] takes a toll on the candidates,” he added. Asonye noted that students skipped classes and became stressed during previous elections.

He acknowleded that “there’s less of a period to get to know each individual candidate,” but said the S.A. will make up for that by holding more forums in dorms and in front of student groups, where the student body can question the candidates.

Another change this spring is electronic voting. Computers at polling sites will replace paper ballots.

“We did electronic voting this year in the fall for the first time,” Asonye said. A private company, Votehere.net, offers the electronic service and delivers the results the next morning.

“It makes the tabulation process a lot quicker and smoother,” Asonye explained. The old paper ballots on Scantron sheets took a week to process, because there is only one Scantron machine at Cornell, according to Asonye.

“It’s heartbreaking for candidates because they’re so nervous,” he said about the week-long wait for election results.

The new system is secure and everyone has a unique personal identification number, Asonye added.

In the fall elections for new student representatives, however, a five-minute glitch in the network connection lost four votes — but that did not have an impact on the election outcome, Asonye noted.

Still, the Assembly talked to the company about the problem.

“We’re making sure that outcome would never happen again,” Asonye said.

The electronic voting last fall might have contributed to a considerable boost in the number of voters. Asonye hopes to increase voter turnout to 50 percent in the campus-wide election next week.

Other election-related events this week include the Student-elected Trustee Candidates Forum, sponsored by The Sun at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in WSH, and the Candidates’ Forum on Wednesday, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the WSH Memorial Room. At the Candidates’ Forum, the S.A. hopefuls will congregate to present their viewpoints on a variety of issues and answer questions regarding the constituencies they aim to serve, according to Mahon.

Another forum on March 5 will focus on the Student Activity Fee. The representatives elected this spring will be in charge of allocating funds to different student organizations next fall. The Student Activities Forum, a committee of the S.A., decided to sponsor the forum as an “opportunity for both candidates and community members to come together and learn … both what the organizations do and to learn how the candidates feel regarding the activity fee,” said Claire Ackerman ’01, chair of the Student Activities Forum.

Archived article by Heather Schroeder