A.S. elections are completely electronic for the first time

Adolfo Flores

The Associated Student Senate elections were for the first time completely electronic and according to officials no major issues occurred.

This election was expected to produce a higher informed voter turnout.

Students could vote from the comfort of their home or go to one of the four polling stations set up by AS for the senator that would be representing their college.

Mazen Hafez, director of elections, said that the goal for voter turnout this semester is 3,500 students and that $16,000 were designated for this election in order to increase that number. About 1,800 students participated in the last election.

About $8,000 of that money went towards voter guides, which included information on the candidates as well as those who weren’t running since no one ran for the following positions: graduate senator, senator for the college of health and human development and the college of engineering and computer science.

‘Please be informed and read the voter guide which is also online and talk to the candidates,’ Hafez said.

‘It takes honestly about a minute to vote,’ Hafez added. ‘If you don’t vote you can’t complain.’

Hafez and his committee handed out voter guides to every department before the election so professors could pass them out in their classes. The philosophy department declined because they felt it would be a waste of the instructors’ time, Hafez said.

A.S. Senator Andrew Collard was one of the volunteers attempting to get passerbys to vote and was at the polling station in front of the library since 8 a.m. He noted a lot more people stopping by to vote than previous semesters. At midday he estimated that they saw an estimated 150 to 200 students vote.

‘Senators are the students’ voice so any issue that a student has is an issue a senator has as well,’ Collard said. ‘So not only is this your money, but these people represent you.’

While some students walked without a glance past the polling stations or the calls from volunteers to participate, some decided to stop and vote.

‘I didn’t really know who I voted for, I just picked one,’ said Betty Li, freshman business major. ‘Next time I should know more and make the right decision.’

Still, some students, like Nareg Bostanian, took advantage of the voter guides available at the booths before they voted.

‘I read the guide before I voted, but I would’ve liked to have known about it before,’ the freshman undecided major said. ‘It’s important to vote because they’re going to be representing you and also because I want to be involved on campus.’

As Katherine Opitz, a senior broadcast journalism major, was reading her voter guide, she reflected on the apathy of not only students, but voters in general.

‘There’s an imbalance between people not coming out to vote and people voting who are not informed,’ Opitz said. ‘I think a lot of people don’t know the overall issues.’

A.S. Vice President Nicole Umali, agreed.

‘Students are somewhat apathetic because we tend to live in our bubbles and not know what’s going on at times,’ Umali said. ‘Voters in general will come out if there’s an issue that grabs their attention.’

One issue that Umali hopes to undertake is sustainability and awareness. For example, creating scholarships from A.S. funds since some students aren’t always eligible for certain ones and inform students on the campus quality fee since a lot of them don’t know what it is.

After the program experienced technical difficulties last semester, students vote was revamped, said Steve Peluca, network advisor for A.S.

Still there were some set backs.

‘When a couple students logged on to vote the system said that they had already voted,’ Deluca said.

To deal with the issue voters were taken to the Matador Involvement Center to vote and their student identification number was taken down in order to avoid double voting.

When asked if this hiccup compromised any of the votes Deluca said ‘absolutely not.’

Janina Sanchez, director of personel of elections, said a mock trial was held during freshman orientation in order to test the system and there were no issues.

‘I definitely expect a higher voter turnout as well as more informed students,’ Sanchez said. ‘How the elections will affect students depends on what they believe in.’