Editorial: New StuGov voting method a win, but could be better


Charlie Coffey/Iowa State Daily

The 2016 Student Government results were given out via a power point on March 4 in the Memorial Union.

Editorial Board

A new Student Government president and vice president and set of senators were elected to office Friday and are now charged with leading and caring for the student body next academic year starting in April.

The group was elected with more votes than last year, in part due to a new voting system that was a win for students.

This year, the ballot was sent to students’ emails, whereas in years past, students would have to go to a website to cast their votes.

Alex Rodgers, election commissioner, told the Daily on Friday that he was ecstatic about the voter turnout. A total 5,742 votes were counted, which is about 16 percent of the student population, a 3 percent increase in voter turnout from last year. The voting numbers have increased in general compared with the past several years. In 2011, 3,186 students voted in the elections, when the student group was called Government of the Student Body. In 2012, 2,688 students voted. In 2013, 2,427 students voted. In 2014, a total of 3,078 votes, though that fell short of the then-GSB election commission’s goal of 4,500 student votes.

Rodgers told the Daily he believes the current voting system works and said going back to the old system — which was the website vote.iastate.edu — could cost the student body about $40,000 up front, but it would be in place for the next 10 to 12 years.

The voting method in which the ballot is sent directly to students is a win. Basically, anything that eliminates steps to cater to the students’ habits is what should be done in order to increase voter turnout. And while the numbers still aren’t where they need to be in terms of the proportion of students who voted, this method change is definitely a step in the right direction.

While the number of voters has drastically increased within the last five years, the number is still under-representative of the entire student population. The presidential and vice presidential candidates attempt to get the word out about the elections through their own campaigns, and the election commission has helped improve the voter turnout rate, but a 16 percent turnout is abysmal. The student body needs to realize the level of importance its Student Government is in students’ lives. Student Government is a direct line to the administration and one of the biggest forces fighting for students. Therefore, it is on the election commission to ensure more students are aware of the importance of the election process, and the student body should take the 10 minutes out of their lives to read about each candidate’s platform and click through the election ballot emailed right to their inbox.