Elections start, sputter

Online voting trouble caused confusion, and one rally enticed voters with free food.

Elizabeth Cook

The first day of campus-wide elections for student government positions was plagued with technical difficulties, causing frustration for students trying to log their votes.

The voting Web site was down Monday afternoon for two hours, and into Monday evening there was still confusion as to which positions could be voted for on the site.

Some positions, like those of the University Senate and Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, were left off the ballot.

The glitches are expected to be fixed by today, said Ed Kim, adviser for the commission.

Free sandwiches and sodas awaited students who voted on the West Bank on Monday as part of the three-day “Get out the Vote” rally aimed to break voter apathy.

Students could vote for MSA president, vice president and at-large members among other campus positions by using computers set up by the All-Campus Elections Commission.

Whether it was the food or the desire to get involved, approximately 500 students voted during the rally’s two hours, according to Jacque Maxwell, a philosophy senior who is a member of the ACEC.

“This is the first year (I’ve voted),” said Paras Gandhi, a finance and economics sophomore. “I’m not going to lie: it’s the free food set up over here.”

The Graduate and Professional Student Assembly is also hosting its first-ever presidential election, which will also be conducted online.

When students log in with their x500 number, they will have access to whatever elections they’re eligible for, depending on their year and college.

To inform voters, the Web site lists filling statements alongside candidate names.

The race is between two main tickets: Emma Olson and Ross Skattum, who want teacher evaluations more accessible to students; and Nathan Olson and Adam Engelman, who support a larger sense of community in the surrounding campus neighborhoods.

Both MSA contenders have similar platforms: increasing safety, keeping MSA Express, lowering textbook costs and building stronger relationships with other student groups.

Tyler Johnson, a first-year visual arts student, said students should vote because whoever wins will be representing them.

“They’re the people who have the power to get things done in our name,” he said.

Two candidates, Santiago Merea and Kristen Denzer, are on the ballot for GAPSA’s presidential race.

Merea wants to create social events that work as professional networks for graduate students.

Denzer wants to create a stronger sense of community and reduce turnover within the organization.

Students can write in anyone not on the ballot by providing that person’s x500 number.

“(This) prevents Bob Barker to be added on,” Kim said.

Sasha Karosas, an environmental science sophomore, said she didn’t vote because she didn’t have enough knowledge about student government and won’t vote for free food.

“I don’t really know what MSA does,” she said. “I just see signs saying, ‘Vote for this.’ “

The commission’s Web site also includes races for University Senate and Minnesota

Public Interest Research Group local board members, Kim said.

Students can vote until 8 p.m. Wednesday.