Student Government ballots present voting challenges


Schuyler Smith/Iowa State Daily

Students vote at Memorial Lutheran Church in 2014.

Zach Clemens

Student Government elections, which were conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, had a technical issue with some students not receiving their ballots through email.

Raghul Ethiraj, senior in aerospace engineering who is running for president, said he first heard of the issue from someone he represents as a community adviser. He then reached out to a number of other students and found out it was a wider problem than he expected.

“I was shocked to hear this happening,” Ethiraj said. “This is very concerning that some students don’t have a chance to vote.”

Ethriaj said he and his running mate, Akol Dok, have tried to reach out to as many students as they can and make a push on social media, but that will only work to a point.

The process of voting changed from previous years. In the past, students logged onto a website,, and voted. This year, students were supposed to receive a personalized email from Qualtrics, a survey company, and students would vote through a personalized link, but some students never got the email.

Alex Rodgers, election commissioner and senior in agricultural and life sciences education, knew about the issue. He said the problem was that when the election commission got the roster of emails from the registrar, it only contained approximately 30,000 emails, not the entire 36,001 that would encompass the entire student body. He said he believed the issue was that some students had their information private or unlisted.

“We were well aware we only had 30,000 emails, but we made every effort to get the word out and let students know how to vote,” Rodgers said. “Every student had the ability to vote that had the desire to vote.”

This was the same situation as last year, but there wasn’t an issue with the election commission not having certain students’ emails because students went to a voting website.

Sen. Zackary Reece, presidential candidate and junior in political science, said he was disappointed with the situation.

“It’s concerning to Cole [Button] and I and others on the slate because we have low voter turnout regardless and we’re going to have an even lower rate now,” Reece said. “It’s upsetting because we want a higher voter turnout and we want to get it right the first time. And at the same time, this will deter voters.”

Reece understood that the election commission was doing its best, but was frustrated and just hoped people still voted.

Cole Staudt, junior in political science, said it was frustrating but also explained that he and Cody West, his running mate, understood that having a new system might result in some issues. 

“I think that whoever wins will immediately go and sign a contract with ITS to go back to the old system,” Staudt said. “It was just easier that way.”

Rodgers did indicate overall he thought the new system was a success, but had some bugs to work out. He also said the voter turnout was higher in numbers and percentage of the student body than in previous years.