MSA will award prizes to

by Rebecca Czaplewski

A trip to the ballot box during the upcoming all-campus elections could be worth more than simply exercising the right to vote — $100 more.
In an effort to increase turnout for the late-April elections, voters will get a chance to register for a raffle to win $100. Ten winners will claim the cash; one grand prize winner will receive a palm-sized pocket organizer.
Although all money and prizes were donated by University Bookstores, members of the All-Campus Elections Commission realize the method of increasing voter turnout can be a touchy subject.
YeeLeng Hang, adviser for the election commission, said the prizes are an incentive for students to get out and vote, especially in light of last year’s low turnout. Fewer than five percent of eligible students voted in the 1998 elections.
Hang added that the elections commission has the responsibility to present the raffle in a way that doesn’t offend student voters. He cited a past election where voters received a free soda. Many students opposed the method, Hang said.
“We don’t want it to undermine the integrity of the election process,” he said. “The question is how to proceed to have it in a fair manner that is not perceived as quid pro quo.”
Although the elections commission won’t have concrete plans for the way the raffle is run until next week, they plan to be cautious in both the design of the raffle and advertising.
“We don’t want it to look like we’re buying the vote,” said elections commission member Ben Reppe. “People will have the option to opt into the drawing.”
Although most of the elections commission members said it’s the responsibility of candidates to increase voter turnout, many agree that the raffle is a good idea.
Jose Vazquez, chairman of the elections commission, said he believes the raffle will help boost turnout.
“That’s what will make a difference — we expect it to raise the voter turnout,” Vazquez said.
Other changes have been made for the elections, which will take place on April 28 and 29. Voters will get to choose from 10 polling stations on campus this year, in addition to voting online. There were only two polling stations for last year’s election.