Students hoping for a normal dinner on North Campus last night instead found themselves inundated by endless piles of flyers, screaming sidewalk graffiti and pleas for votes.
With the click of a mouse, it was all over: for the first time, freshmen and transfer students were able to vote for their representatives online without having to get wet from yesterday’s rain or wait in line. According to Michael Wacht ’02, one of three elections committee members on the Student Assembly (S.A.), the new voting system is already a success with over 500 voters logged on as of 7 p.m.
In previous years, voters have had to brave blizzards to go to designated areas on campus. According to S.A. member Lindsay Patross ’02, special computers provided by Vote.com were used in previous elections. With this year’s enhanced voting technology, S.A. members hope for increased student interest in campus politics.
“The new system is more democratic,” Wacht said. “It’s exciting to allow every student to vote at their own will.”
While proponents of the new system laud the ease with which students can now cast their votes, some have reservations.
“There’s a sense of anxiety at a much heightened level because this is something that’s new; it’s a test run,” said S.A. member Funa Maduka ’04.
Last year, 31 percent of freshmen voted in the S.A. elections. Whether or not the new system succeeded in increasing voter participation is still to be seen. The “polls” closed yesterday at 11:59 p.m.
“I probably didn’t vote when I was a freshman,” Patross admitted. “College students suffer from apathy, but we need people to get involved.”
This year freshmen and transfer students received an e-mail with their pin number Monday. In the message, students click on the link to votehere.net, a business that runs electronic elections.
Twenty-two freshmen campaigned in various locations across campus for four seats on the S.A., culminating in the elections yesterday. Platforms addressed issues ranging from making Balch a co-ed residence hall to having free laundry to expanding Robert Purcell Community Center’s hours.
“I voted for people who seemed to take the election seriously,” Rebecca Marcus ’05 said. “I liked how some candidates knew exactly what needed focus, like the lines in RPU.”
In order to make the ballot, candidates were required to collect fifty signatures in support of their candidacy, come up with catchy slogans and spend their own money on printing costs.
“I was kind of taken by surprise by the whole process, and I feel that I am much more prepared for future runs for an S.A. seat,” said candidate Daniel Swersky ’05. “To be honest, I don’t really like the process because it sort of places importance on getting name recognition instead of on people’s concerns.”
Hidden behind each hopeful’s campaign platform was the true motivation for running.
“I was running to do something different, something I never would have done in high school, and I love politics,” Darren Rumack ’05 said.
Ross Blankenship ’05, on the other hand, said he felt compelled to run because “there is zero athlete representation.”
The candidates also agree that the S.A. has an important function on campus.
“[The] S.A. has a great importance to all Cornell students due to the fact that the S.A. directly or indirectly funds all student organizations,” candidate Scott Kurpiel ’05 said.
Archived article by Alison Thomas