Zimmerman: 2013 election had high voter turnout despite no ballot incentive
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 12:03
Despite a new giveaway rule concerning USU campaigning, USU had a successful voter turnout for the 2013 final elections, according to Linda Zimmerman, Student Involvement and Leadership executive director.
“This is one of our higher outcomes without an incentive on the ballot,” Zimmerman said.
2010 was the last voting year which did not have an incentive on the ballot. A total of 3,580 ballots were cast for the 2010 final elections, while 3,890 ballots were cast for the 2013 final elections.
This was a surprise to Zimmerman.
“We were concerned we would lose voters,” she said.
Zimmerman said the high voter turnout may be contributed to a new voting software used for the 2013 primary and final elections.
“I was a little nervous about the voting turnout because of our new rule on giveaways, but I think the new software helped,” Zimmerman said.
The software allowed students to view candidate’s qualifications and platforms while voting.
“We had a new voting software that we were able to roll out which was awesome,” Zimmerman said. “We can run numerous elections with this new software.”
There was a concern the voter turnout would be negatively affected as a result of the free giveaway rule and the drop in enrollment.
“We know we dropped about 380 students from what we had last year,” Zimmerman said.
While the total number of enrolled students for the 2013 spring semester has not yet been verified, Zimmerman said this number is the projected loss.
This year, opposed to other years, candidates were permitted to give campaign cards rather than coupons to students. This was done to encourage students to be better informed.
“I think it worked,” Zimmerman said. “We had a good turn out for voters this year, and I feel the students knew who they were voting for better.”
Zimmerman said the new giveaway rule may have even helped increase the voter turnout because students were better informed.
There were 3,739 ballots cast from main campus USU students and 151 ballots cast from Regional Campuses Distant Education students.
Kristin Johnson, Student Involvement and Leadership Staff Assistant, said RCDE can only vote for president. President is the only position that carries over to affect RCDE. All other positions are independent to each campus.
Zimmerman said this is the first year in which only the position of the president was carried throughout all USU campuses. According to the 2012 final elections results, a change to the constitution which would make RCDE and main campus VP’s and senators seperate was placed on the ballot. This change was put into place after receiving 4,147 “yes” votes and 698 “no” votes.
The final elections results were posted Thursday evening on the window of room 326 in the TSC.
The results showed Doug Fiefia won 2,180 votes, 2,099 from main campus students and 81 from RCDE students. His opponent Luke Ensign received 1,555 votes, 1,485 from main campus students and 70 from RCDE students. Fiefia also won the most votes for president in the primary elections despite having 30 votes deducted because of a grievance.
“We were told that they took 30 votes away from Doug for whatever complaint was filed against him,” Zimmerman said.
She said the student involvement and leadership center does not find out what the grievances were. All they do is carry out the consequences. A hearing board is set up for grievances and decides what the punishment should be. This hearing board is kept separate from the student involvement and leadership center.
“We definitely want a separation from the grievances and elections,” Zimmerman said.