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Voter increase shows positive student body change

Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor

Student government elections concluded last Tuesday night, determining the student government executives and Senators for the upcoming academic year. While the debates for various student government executive positions were sparsely attended, voter turnout was higher than in previous years: Out of the undergraduate population, 30.01 percent of students voted, and 17.26 percent of the entire student body voted in this general election.

Growing undergraduate voter turnout for student government elections is a positive change for the student body, and hopefully it will continue to increase in the future. According to the student government website, undergraduate voter turnout for the spring student government general election increased 4.51 percent since 2011, with 25.5 percent voting in 2011 and 27.64 percent voting in 2012. Additionally, overall voter turnout has gone up 0.6 percent since 2011, with 16.65 percent voting in 2011 and a slight dip to 16.28 percent in 2012.

A trend of increasing interest in who represents the student body is a good thing; however, there is a large amount of room to grow.

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, approximately 39 percent of undergraduates voted during their 2013 spring student body election, according to The Tech, the university’s student newspaper.

Student turnout at Carnegie Mellon could reflect a voting percentage that is close to that of other similar institutions if interest in the election process increases on campus.

Increasing student awareness of the elections through public relation efforts should be a priority for student government in the coming years. Utilizing social media and other mediums to connect to students would be ideal to encourage greater student voter turnout.

The increase in voter participation among undergraduate students indicates that students are becoming more invested in who their representatives are and their college experience.
However, student voter turnout can mirror other university’s elections with new candidate campaigns that reach students and make them aware of the significance of elections.