What you need to know for this week’s student government elections

Sunday, March 22, 2020 - 3:34pm

Michigan Central Student Government elections will take place on March 25 and 26.

Michigan Central Student Government elections will take place on March 25 and 26. Buy this photo
Alec Cohen/Daily

Though students are scattered across the globe as classes move online for the semester, the University of Michigan Central Student Government will still hold elections online this Wednesday and Thursday, March 25-26. Here is what you need to know.

What am I voting on?

Students are electing representatives for their schools to the Central Student Government Assembly. There is also a University-wide election for the executive ticket of Central Student Government, the Michigan Police Department Oversight Committee and the adoption of an instant run-off voting policy. These positions are all year-long terms. Depending on the school, there may also be specific proposals or policies for students to vote on.

Who is eligible to vote?

For the executive ticket of CSG, any student regardless of grade or school is eligible to vote. There are also elections for CSG Assembly representatives within each school at the University and any student can vote for their respective school’s representative.

How and when can I vote? 

Voting begins on Wednesday, March 25 at midnight and closes on Thursday, March 26 at 11:59 p.m. All voting takes place online at vote.umich.edu. 

Why do some schools have more openings than others?

Each school is allotted a certain number of representatives based on the total number of students at the University enrolled in each school. LSA, the largest school at the University, has 14 representatives, while smaller schools, like the School of Education, have as few as one seat.

Does how I rank the candidates matter?

Yes. In student government elections, a form of ranked-choice voting is used. This means students rank their preferences for the position with the option to rank as many candidates as there are open positions. So, for the CSG executive ticket, there is only one spot to rank because only one pair can hold the office, while for representative elections with multiple seats, voters can rank multiple candidates for those seats.

For the smaller schools, this has little impact. However, when there is more than one seat open, like for LSA’s 14, a different numerical value is given to each candidate based on how high they are ranked. That means a candidate who is ranked as a voter’s first choice receives more points from that voter than the candidate ranked as their second choice.

The voting frequently asked questions webpage offers this example: If there are three open seats, a vote for the No. 1 preference would give that candidate three points, the No. 2 selection would receive two points and No. 3 would receive one point. 

What is the difference between CSG and school-wide student governments?

CSG is the student government of the entire University student body, containing representation from every school, including graduate programs. CSG is known for its AirBus program offering free rides to and from the airport, its game day hydration stations and for providing funding to student organizations.

Individual schools’ student governments are composed of students in programs within those schools. These student governments are typically more focused on the needs of students within their schools and drafting policies meant to specifically impact their respective school.

Can I write-in candidates?

Yes. There are options on every ballot to write-in candidates.

What are these parties I’m hearing about?

Within individual schools’ governments, presidential and vice presidential candidates will run together. However, they are not involved in any parties and all candidates for these governments run independently.

For CSG, parties sometimes led by a presidential and vice-presidential candidate endorse a slate of candidates running for seats in the Assembly. This year, one party, called Represent Michigan, is not putting up candidates for the executive ticket election. The other two parties, Mobilize Michigan and Change At Michigan, have presidential and vice presidential candidates as well as endorsed candidates running for Assembly seats. Additionally, two groups are running for LSA Student Government.

No party in this year’s election has a “full” slate of Assembly candidates. A full slate would mean there is exactly the same number of candidates endorsed by the party as there are open positions — so for LSA’s 14 spots, a party would have 14 candidates to have a full slate, and this would be the same across all schools. This means that while it is possible for a party to win a plurality of seats in the Assembly, it is likely more that one or all parties in this election will have at least some representation within the Assembly.

Where can I get more information to make an informed decision?

You can learn more about the candidates, parties and platforms in The Daily's election guide

Election dates for some student governments have been impacted by COVID-19. This article has been updated to reflect these changes.
 
Daily News Editor Alex Harring can be reached at harring@umich.edu.