Butler University’s Student Government Association is hoping to increase student interest and voter turnout for the presidential and class officer elections on Feb. 27.
Allie Combs, the public relations representative for the SGA Election Oversight Committee, said that SGA is turning to technology for this election.
“(SGA members) usually do a ‘Rock the Vote’ campaign,” she said, “but it was causing confusion. People thought you could only vote that way and that you couldn’t vote online, so we’re not doing that this year.”
Instead, voting will take place completely online and will be promoted through social media.
Combs also said a debate and a Starbucks forum will be held for students to learn more about candidates.
The candidates will not have to face an incumbent, since current SGA President Al Carroll said in an email to The Collegian that he will not be running for reelection this year.
Applications for president and class officers went up Thursday and must be returned tomorrow by 5 p.m. Until that process is complete and applications are verified, an official candidate list cannot be made, Jonathan Himes, SGA vice president of programming, said. However, contenders are emerging.
Mike Keller, a member of the SGA Finance Board, and Kelsa Reynolds, SGA vice president of operations, both said in emails to The Collegian that they will be running for SGA president.
Getting students interested in the election is key to increasing turnout, Dan Schramm, SGA vice president of finance, said. He said that students should care about the elections, particularly the presidential race.
“The president is the spearhead person of SGA, and most of the programs we do are at least approved by him, if not led by him,” Schramm said.
The money for those programs, such as The Fray concert during the fall semester, comes from the SGA budget, Lauren Pedigo, SGA vice president of public relations, said. This budget is made up of the $288 fee each student pays.
“Students pay an activity fee every year to get programming on campus, and you’re voting for the person who will ultimately be the decider on programming,” Pedigo said.
Money is not the only reason to vote, she said.
“You’re voting for someone who will represent your views,” Pedigo said.
Last year, The Collegian reported in “Al Carroll on winning SGA president, moving forward” that 27 percent of students voted in the presidential election, which was a 6 percent drop from the previous year (Mar. 3, 2011). In addition, The Collegian reported in “SGA presidential candidate debate draws 35 students” that less than 1 percent of the student body—35 students—attended the candidate debate for the 2010 election (Feb. 17, 2010).
Pedigo and Schramm both ideally want 100 percent voter turnout but said they realize that result is nearly impossible.
Schramm said he hopes for 50 percent, and Himes said he aims to double last year’s percentage, which would require hitting 54 percent.
“A good goal would be to improve upon last year,” Pedigo said, “and get more people involved and caring about the election.”
Campaigning begins Monday, and voting will take place on Feb. 27.