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OUR VIEW: Election freebies not missed with new rules

An Editorial Opinion

Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 14:02

 

There is a reason U.S. presidential candidates are not allowed to go door-to-door and give every American $100 to vote for them: It is undemocratic. It is buying a vote. The candidate isn’t telling citizens what they want to do for the country: He or she is offering financial compensation for their vote. It undermines the very fabric of a democratic society.

Why should ASUSU candidates be allowed to — or rather, formerly allowed to — do this?

The editorial staff applauds the decision by ASUSU to no longer allow coupons or other goodies to be handed out in exchange for a vote for the candidate in the annual elections. Don’t get us wrong, coupons for discounted Costa Vida are nice, but they shouldn’t guide your vote. The issues should.

Last year students would walk through “The Gauntlet” — the long stretch of sidewalk from the University Inn to the site of the old Ag Science building where campaign booths were set up — and be bombarded with coupons, food and other various trinkets from the year’s crop of ASUSU candidates. How does this educate voters on the issues facing the university? All they were doing was dangling a proverbial carrot and saying “Vote for me! I’ve got stuff!”

This year’s walk through The Gauntlet was much better, although pedestrians were still jumped on by the candidates or their helpers at the first sign of interest. Still, this time around the candidates were handing out fliers and buttons, harmless items when it comes to voting. Fliers and buttons cannot be exchanged for goods and services.

There was a noticeable amount of grumbling around campus toward the end of the spring 2012 semester due to a decision to raise student fees to pay for the new Aggie Life and Wellness Center. This was voted on in the elections and passed by a mere 134 votes, with 2,586 for and 2,452 against, according to the Herald Journal. On a campus with an enrollment of nearly 17,000, only a little more than 5,000 students voted on this rather important item. And what did the candidates do to inform students of this issue? They gave out cookies.

To quote Riley Bradshaw, an engineering senator, “If we lose voters because we didn’t entice them to vote with a coupon or doughnut, we haven’t really lost any quality votes. The people who care enough to look at the candidates and make an informed decision are the ones that would vote regardless of any incentives.”

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