Edwards, Schmit win campus election

Campus elections have had low student turnout for the past five years.

MSA President elect Mike Schmit, right, and Vice President Fiona Cummings celebrate after the results come in Wednesday night at Beta Theta Pi.

Image by Amanda Snyder

MSA President elect Mike Schmit, right, and Vice President Fiona Cummings celebrate after the results come in Wednesday night at Beta Theta Pi.

by Tyler Gieseke

University of Minnesota students this week chose Brittany Edwards and Mike Schmit as their 2013-14 graduate and undergraduate student body presidents, respectively.

Election results were announced late Wednesday after three days of online voting.

In a close race, Edwards earned about 44 percent of the vote and will lead the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly during her second full year as president. Write-in candidate Scott Petty received about 35 percent of the vote.

Schmit, a finance and supply chain and operations management sophomore will head the Minnesota Student Association with his vice president, Fiona Cummings. The pair’s ticket earned 50 percent of the vote. Mick Hedberg fell in second place with 40 percent of the vote.

“I’m really excited for this upcoming year,” Schmit said. “I think we can do some amazing things together as a University community.”

Both elections have had historically low turnouts over the past five years.

This year, less than 7 percent of about 14,600 eligible voters cast a vote in the GAPSA presidential race — up about 4 percentage points from the year before — while about 15 percent of eligible undergraduate voters participated in MSA’s election.

MSA turnout also increased by about half a percentage point.

Quinn Handahl, the events and logistics coordinator for the All-Campus Elections Commission, noted that both elections had a higher turnout from the previous year.

“So that’s a success,” Handahl said.

The MSA presidential election was calculated using ranked-choice voting, in which students indicate preference for candidates. The candidates with the fewest votes are eliminated in rounds and the ballots are recounted.

Colter Heirigs, the third-place candidate for MSA president, was eliminated in the first round, after receiving only 11 percent of the vote.

Write-in candidate Petty decided to run for GAPSA president after learning that two of the three official candidates would agree to drop out of the race — an agreement that All-Campus Elections Commission officer Mallory Kurkoski said had no precedent.

Graduate students Kevin Lang and Alfonso Sintjago recently withdrew their candidacy, leaving Edwards as the remaining official candidate.

Edwards is a master’s in public policy candidate in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, with a graduate minor in program evaluation.

She has served as GAPSA president since early 2012, when she became acting president after former president Abou Amara resigned. She was the sole candidate for GAPSA president in last year’s election.

Besides GAPSA and MSA presidents, the all-campus elections this week decided MSA at-large members and representatives to the Student Senate.