Online elections seek to save time, paper

September 28, 2010 — by Will Edman

Student elections have been moved online this school year by the elections commission in an attempt to save class time and be more environmentally friendly.

The move was masterminded by the elections commission and executed by co-head commissioner Kevin Mu, who designed a program and website himself, hoping to make voting simple and fast.

This new voting method will first be used during the Homecoming Court elections. According to Mu, in order to vote, students will go to a website called “heliospheric” and select their appropriate graduation class. Students must then enter their first name and student ID number.

However, it is this aspect of the voting process that some take objection to, worried that their anonymity will not be protected. But Mu said names and ID numbers are not recorded by the site, just the votes.

“This is to ensure that each person only gets one vote so that elections are totally fair,” said Mu.

In order to make students aware of the move online, the commission handed out small slips of paper to each student with directions on how to vote. Also, many students have been directed to the website by Facebook, where commission members have shared the site’s link.

This switch to an electronic method of voting follows the trend of other local schools such as Monta Vista and Lynbrook.

“For the first time, we wanted to print out small sheets of paper so that people wouldn’t be so confused and would know what they were doing,” said Mu. “But in the future I think it will prove to be a very efficient and green method of voting.”

However, this online method of voting presents one major, seemingly unavoidable problem: the number of people who vote. In past elections, slips have gone to every student, so that the voting turnout was never an issue. However, students forget to vote online or may simply have no desire to visit the voting website.

“Most likely [the voting turnout] will reflect the number of students interested in school events/school spirit, so it might not be as big as it used to be,” said junior Viraj Parmar. “As long as they have Internet, interested students will vote.”

In an effort to increase the number of voters, the elections commission has also used multiple techniques to get the word out to the student body.

“We started by introducing it by paper instructions that were handed out during class and then by word of mouth, but we found that it wasn’t enough,” said senior commissioner Grace Kim. “We were then able to get all four class presidents to send messages spreading the word to the students. We also sent e-mails to students’ Aeries accounts.”

Ultimately, the success of the new online elections will depend on the students’ desires to vote.

“I think we certainly wont be able to get 100 percent of the students [to vote] anymore, but I hope that [the numbers] don’t decrease substantially,” Mu said. “However, I think many students realize the importance of voting in elections, so I believe they will continue to vote.”

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