Turnout at polls low
More than 2,000 UA students voted in the Associated Student Government general election – the lowest turnout in four years.
“It was good, especially for a short campaign period,” said Sylvia Scott, director of Student Involvement.
A total of 2,240 students voted in the election.
Six complaints have been filed so far, and officials will accept new complaints until 9 a.m. today.
The Office of Community Standards and Student Ethics will handle all election complaints, Scott said. Scott doesn’t expect any of the complaints to alter the election results, she said.
Of the complaints, Scott listed the following:
Printing campaign materials in a student computer lab,
Using student and state funds to pay for an advertisement in The Arkansas Traveler,
Campaining door-to-door in a residence hall.
No problems with the electronic balloting have been reported, Scott said. Problems with duplicate voting and voter fraud have been resolved, and this election went smoothly.
“They monitored it very closely the whole time,” Scott said.
Computing Services employees tallied the votes and then faxed the numbers to Scott at the Office for Student Involvement and Leadership.
Most students approve of electronic balloting because of convenience, Scott said. But officials will have to evaluate whether to use online voting every year.
“It’s going to have to be re-examined and watched very closely every year,” Scott said.
The high number of voters under this year’s circumstances can be attributed to an increasing student interest in student government.
“Because there has been a lot more controversy, students are taking a lot more interest,” she said.
The quality of candidates motivated students to vote, said Melanie Cawthorn, a candidate for vice presidential candidate.
“It was a very competitive race,” Cawthorn said. “… [Students] were ready for a change.”
More students might have voted if the election were not so close to finals and if the campaign period was longer, but all the candidates made strong efforts to share their messages with the student body, Scott said.
“It makes it difficult,” she said. “Campaigning takes a lot of time.”
But ASG candidates didn’t have much time. The weeklong campaign wasn’t as long as Scott would have liked, but she said she and other administrators kept to their promise of completing elections by the end of the semester.
“The chancellor made a commitment to the students,” Scott said. “There wasn’t any time to do a run-off.” The shortened campaign period affected what candidate students chose to vote for, said Skinner Layne, Senate president. Candidates who had previous ASG experience had an advantage, he said.
“The person who got the most votes served in campus government for two years,” Layne said. “No one else had a chance to get their name out.”