During Weber State University student representative elections last year, 50-60 candidates filed grievances against their opponents, which led to the delay of the election results. The WSU Student Association changed the rules for this year in hopes of reducing the number of grievances filed and to increase voter participation.
One of the rule changes was the lowering of the spending limit for candidates running for executive and legislative offices. The new limit is $750 for executive offices and $250 for legislative offices.
“Personally, when I spent $1,300 last year, about $700 was right out of my pocket,” said David Wilson, student body president. “I thought, ‘This is a lot of money; it is almost half of my tuition bill. That is way too much to spend getting elected.’ Experience is great, you cannot put a price on that, but we want to make sure the elections are open to everyone. However, there is a level of commitment associated with spending money.”
Another recent change is the specific penalties in place for candidates who break the election rules. Wilson said he is excited to see the rules put in place so candidates will be more willing to comply with the rules. Previously, there were no punishments for rule-breakers.
“We do not just want people to fill a position at the school,” said Tyler Hall, Davis campus senator. “We want candidates who care, we want passionate candidates, and we want contested races.”
WSUSA hopes the rule changes will help make the elections more successful than in previous years. WSUSA set a goal to try to break 10 percent of student body voter turnout, which would be the highest voter turnout ever. Last year, the voter turnout was 4.6 percent of the total student body.
“The biggest things we are trying to address is voter education, and tell people to get out and vote, no matter who they vote for,” Wilson said.
Jacob Thompson, the senator for the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences and head of the election committee, said that during both the executive and legislative elections, WSUSA will have voting stations with six or seven laptops in the Shepherd Union Building. Also, WSUSA plans to have bulletin boards up telling about each of the candidates, and treats for students who vote.
One of the issues with the voting process last year was that students were unable to vote on mobile devices, due to glitches in voting ballot system.
However, Wilson said that this year, WSUSA is hopeful there will be no glitches in the system, and senators will test it before the elections to make sure voting on mobile devices will be possible.
“If you cannot vote from your phone, you have lost half the votes right there,” Wilson said.
Hall said the promotion really needs to happen.
“We need to not have the glitches, we need to have the process streamlined, we need it to be simple — it should be, but it also needs the elections to be mass-promoted,” Hall said. “The majority of the signs on campus should be ‘vote’ — not ‘vote for me,’ but ‘VOTE!’”
The executive offices include student body president, legislative vice president, programming vice president, diversity and unity vice president, service vice president, clubs and organizations vice president, leadership vice president, and Davis campus and satellite centers vice president. Voting will take place March 20. The legislative elections, for student senate positions, will be held March 31 through April 3.
Hall said that sometimes the amount of voters can really influence the elections. Sometimes, in fact, 25 people can make the difference between someone winning and losing.
“The real magic of the elections is will we be able to take these idealistic visions, these good concepts, these wonderful notions, and turn them into a reality,” Hall said.