Elections committee struggles for interest

JP Leider

Each year, campus student governments confirm five students as all-campus election commissioners.

Although the positions offer stipends and officials advertise them as leadership opportunities, only three applicants applied for five positions, calling for the Student Activities Office to extend the deadline another week.

When the position finally closed Friday, seven students had applied.

Commissioners work behind the scenes organizing the elections that some student groups use to elect officers and representatives in the spring.

The Minnesota Student Association is one such organization, using the all-campus elections to choose its officers and at-large representatives.

Students who apply for the position are normally those interested in the political system and are likely looking for leadership opportunities not offered by their program, said commission adviser Margaret Cahill.

Last year, six people applied for the five commissioner positions.

One of those commissioners, Matt Winegar, decided to reapply this year.

Winegar, who was in charge of last year’s ACEC “Get Out the Vote” effort for the spring elections, said he thinks this year’s voter turnout for MSA elections will be greater.

“Last year voter turnout was less than adequate,” he said.

A selection committee will interview Winegar and the six other applicants this week, resulting in five nominees for MSA and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly to consider at its upcoming joint meeting.

Although GAPSA has influence in commissioner selection and ACEC rules, it does not run its elections through the ACEC.

Cahill, who also advises both MSA and GAPSA, said GAPSA’s current organization precludes the assembly from utilizing the ACEC like MSA does.

The University’s graduate college boards and student councils elect representatives to the assembly, which then selects the executive board.

Although individual boards and councils could choose to use the ACEC, they haven’t yet elected to do so.

Because of technical problems over the past few years, “there’s not a lot of faith in the system, and (GAPSA) needs to have confidence in the program,” Cahill said.

Last year, dozens of graduate students were able to vote in MSA elections because of technical errors.

Because of new rules and constraints to the current electoral system, Cahill said the ACEC will likely employ outside organizations that specialize in student government elections to create a new way for the ACEC to conduct online elections.

GAPSA Executive Vice President Taqee Khaled said college boards and councils may indeed be interested in using the new system, assuming it becomes dependable.

But graduate and professional students should not necessarily expect any changes in the near future.

“In this coming year, I wouldn’t expect GAPSA to do anything different,” Khaled said. “These changes are as of yet ongoing. To this assembly, we would want to make sure (the new system) is proven.”