The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 58.0°F | Overcast

UA Voter Turnout Lower This Year

By JiHye Kim

The Undergraduate Association Senate and 2010 Class Council elections for fall 2006 concluded on Friday with a slightly lower voter turnout than last year and no representatives chosen for Bexley Hall and the Living Group Council. Compared to a voter turnout of 1,160 votes last year, 1,083 votes were cast this year, with a general increase in freshman participation and a small decrease in upperclassman participation.

The slight decrease in voter turnout may be due to problems in obtaining viable candidates for all of the open positions and engaging the students to vote, according to UA Technical Coordinator Joseph W. Presbrey ’08. Upperclassman participation decreased, as seen by a drop of nearly 70 votes in the sophomore and senior classes. However, freshman participation rose from last year’s 466 votes to this year’s 547.

The new leaders of the 2010 Class Council are President Jason A. Scott ’10 and Vice President Priya Ramaswamy ’10. Additionally, 26 UA Senators were elected as representatives of off-campus students, fraternities, sororities, and campus dormitories.

Both Bexley and the LGC do not have elected senators because their candidates received only one vote each.

According to the UA President Andrew T. Lukmann ’07, Bexley’s most popular write-in candidate “Naked Abe Lincoln,” a fictional student, received about 35 votes, while the official Bexley candidate for Senate, Grace C. Lee ’09, received one vote. There were also several other write-in candidates that received one vote each.

“Rather than hold a runoff between each of the one-vote valid candidates,” Lukmann said, “the elections commission decided to choose no winner.”

Usually, in such situations, the dormitory president will appoint a senator, but Bexley does not have a president, Miller said. She said that Lukmann will e-mail Bexley residents to find interested parties, and if there is more than one, another vote will take place.

The LGC also did not have an elected senator, as there were no official candidates running and a few write-in candidates that all received one vote each. Miller said that the LGC speaker will appoint a senator. The UA is planning on changing the write-in voting procedures for Spring 2007 elections.

“In living groups that historically rely on write-in elections, it was argued last year that there should be more write-in blanks on the ballot,” UA Vice President Ruth Miller ’07 said. “Discussion took place about creating a formula to decide how many blanks appear on a ballot … but the fall election took place early enough in the year that we weren’t able to sit down with a representative group and look over the specifics of any changes.”

Of the Senate candidates, 12 decided to represent their respective Fraternity, Sorority, or Independent Living Group while 26 chose to represent their dormitories, according to Presbrey.

For the 2010 Class Council, there were 14 official candidates with a total of 60 including write-in candidates. For the UA Senate, there were 33 official candidates with a total of 235.

This year, there were 1,053 online votes and about 20-30 paper votes compared to last year’s nearly 60 paper votes, which represents the increasing convenience of online voting. On average, 48 percent of votes cast were for the winners, although there was a wide range of percentage of votes obtained by winning senators.

“I am very happy with this year’s elections,” UA Election Commissioner Michelle Jeong ’08. This election ran relatively smoothly without any foul play or illegal campaigning issues.