Voting in the Quad Ineffective

June 1, 2009 — by Mary Mykhaylova, Ren Norris, and Kevin Mu

Typically, the election process for ASB has been held in the classrooms and administered by teachers. This year, voting was held in the quad in an attempt to lower the burden on teachers and find a more democratic election method; however, this new routine resulted in a dearth of student participation.

The new voting system reveals presents a frustrating challenge to for the election commission: most high school students are too lazy to vote when a ballot is not spoon-fed to them. Juniors breeze by the voting tables, rushing toward their cars during lunch. Most freshmen and sophomores couldn’t care less, since most of them don’t personally know the upperclassman candidates running for ASB positions. With fewer students voting, the importance of student elections is greatly diminished.

But don’t take our word for it–the paltry voting numbers speak for themselves. Only 350 to 400 students voted this year, as opposed to practically the entire school last spring when voting took place during class. Since roughly three-fourths of the student body is comprised by the freshman, junior and sophomore classes, this means that only about 40 percent of eligible students cast their ballots. This may be due to lack of publicity for the new voting method, but the main reason is that most students don’t vote when it requires “work.”

The school should either find ways to alter the voting system in a manner that would increase student turnout or simply stick with the previous tried-and-true style of voting in the classroom. This type of voting also provides a better sense of students’ preferences. When students are forced to take the initiative to vote, only the students who strongly support a particular candidate participate.

Some would argue that voting in the quad is more democratic because it allows people who truly care about student government to express their opinions in a manner akin to real-world elections, and prevents school elections from becoming a popularity contest. The problem is that the elected ASB members should represent the opinions of the entire school, which includes those who choose not to make the trip to the quad to cast their ballot.

A main reason for the new system is that the elections are disruptive and take away from precious class time; however, a mere five minutes annually are at stake here and, in return, the students gain from a more diverse and fair pool of voters for their ASB members.

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