MSA gets out the vote

The student government hopes to have a higher turnout than last year.

by Elizabeth Cook

Every year student government elections take place on campus, and almost every year there’s low voter turnout.

Though official voting won’t take place until mid-April, the All-Campus Elections Committee is already concocting plans to combat student apathy.

For the 2006 Minnesota Student Association elections, voter turnout continued its downward spiral with 2,841 students casting a vote, compared to 3,839 in 2005.

But according to Ed Kim, the adviser for the All-Campus Election Commission, the low turnout is due to a lack of candidates.

“The bottom line is people tend to vote when people are enticing and motivating,” he said.

Last year the commission was also thrown together at the last minute, said Jacques Maxwell, the public relations and marketing director for the All-Campus Elections Commission.

That’s why this year, instead of one “Get Out and Vote Rally,” there’s going to be three, Maxwell said.

During the rallies, commission members set up tables around campus to get people interested in voting.

Still, if candidates want these votes, they need to promote themselves, Maxwell said. That’s not the commission’s job.

The commission has plans to offer prizes, such as iPods and gift certificates, for those who vote, as well as sending e-mails to students to encourage voting, though nothing is definite yet, Maxwell said.

Of course, some students still don’t see a need to vote.

In his seven years at the University, Brad Segall, a chemistry senior, said he’s yet to find out what student government does.

“I don’t know how my voting would change things around campus,” he said.

Segall said if he knew more about candidates and what kind of power they have, he’d vote.

“If I knew it could lead to changes I could see, I’d vote,” he said.

Who’s running?

As of Wednesday, no one has officially filled with the All-Campus Elections Commission for any position.

But Nathan Olson, the academic and services committee chair for MSA, said he will be running for president, with Adam Engelman, the College of Liberal Arts Facilities and Housing Committee chair, as vice president.

“I really like the kind of work MSA has done this year, and I would like to continue it,” he said.

He wants to continue focusing on safety in relation to the MSA Express van and also to start focusing on lowering the costs of textbooks.

Who wants to run?

People can also apply for the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly president position.

Suzanne Sobotka, the current GAPSA president, said this will be the first time the organization is using an election process instead of appointment.

In the past year, two presidents resigned during their terms, and with an election process, GAPSA is hoping it will have an influence on presidents’ interest in staying.

“It’s also to lend more credibility to the organization,” she said, “and to make the process more democratic.”

Open positions are also available on the University Senate, College of Liberal Arts Student Board, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group and the Recreational Sports Advisory Board.