Last stretch for MSA presidential candidates

Voting lasts until Friday, and organizers hope for voter turnout similar to last year.

Raj Chaduvula

As undergraduate student government elections kick off at the University of Minnesota, presidential candidates have one last chance to pound the pavement and campaign. 
The elections began Wednesday and run online through Friday
Nearly 150 students turned out for the Minnesota Student Association debate on March 31, when presidential candidates Cameron Holl and Abeer Syedah discussed pressing campus issues ranging from mental health to sexual assault prevention. 
Syedah, the incumbent vice president, said she and her running mate, Samantha Marlow, left the debate feeling they covered all the necessary issues. 
“The rebuttals were good [for going] back and forth on the issues between the candidates,” Syedah said. 
Similarly, Holl — who is running a ticket with Nidhi Khurana — said the debate challenged the candidates with a good mix of expected and unexpected questions.
“I think we showed them how we set ourselves apart,” Holl said. 
Syedah said they plan on campaigning until voting closes on Friday by meeting with student groups, visiting classrooms and meeting people in one-on-one sessions, she said. Holl said his team plans to hand out fliers and stickers through the end of the week. 
Syressa Lewis, the All-Campus Elections Commission adviser, said she hopes the voter turnout stays close to last year’s numbers. 
Last year’s election had the highest voter turnout in recent years with nearly 21 percent of undergraduate students participating in the election. That figure is double the voter turnout in 2014. 
Other Big Ten institutions have seen similar patterns. Like Minnesota, Ohio State University and the University of Iowa both saw more ballots cast in 2015 than in the recent past.
Gauging voter turnout is difficult because student engagement and election coverage differ each year, Lewis said. When candidates are uncontested, voter turnout lowers.
Syedah said that this year’s election season felt more laid back than last year.
Holl said it’s difficult to predict students’ reactions to candidates, which determines whether they will vote.
“It’s a good thing for student government if there’s a high turnout,” Holl said.