Censoring students with the MSA vote

The latest election had its problems, including censorship and low turnout.

Students attempting to vote in this year’s Minnesota Student Association elections encountered problems online, even further undermining MSA’s credibility and desire to provide a voice for students.

A mere 2,840 students voted in this year’s MSA elections out of more than 27,000 eligible. That is a decrease of almost 1,000 from last year. Some of that can be blamed on the increasing apathy around campus and the view that MSA is little more than a hyped-up high school student council.

Like it seems with every MSA election, there were hurdles in the voting process. Some students signed in only to be given the message, “There are no elections at this time.” Others filled out an entire ballot only for it to be rejected again and again, even after double-checking entries.

One of the more disturbing practices was the requirement that students provide, if voting online, a valid student ID number for write-in candidates. Students trying to vote for a write-in candidate could not just simply type in the person’s name, but were forced to search for the student’s ID number. Such a hurdle makes it too easy for students to throw their hands in the air and say something akin to “Screw you, MSA.”

Additionally, the requirement that students vote for a student ID number rather than a name is tantamount to censorship. No longer are students allowed to file protest votes. This is ridiculous, especially when considering that even in our national presidential election voters are able file a protest vote. If students wish to write in “P. Diddly Butterfinger” or “Homer Simpson,” they should be able to do so.

It is such practices as silencing student voters that fuel the animosity toward MSA and make it look like a gang of balloon clowns that run in elections every year. The All Campus Elections Commission has a lot of work to do to restore credibility.