More than 40,000 University students failed to vote in this semester’s student government election.
About 7 percent — or 2,189 of 42,716 University students — cast ballots to fill vacancies and elect representatives in the Michigan Student Assembly last week during the two-day-long online election, which began last Tuesday at midnight.
Twenty-two candidates were elected to MSA in the campus-wide elections. The new representatives will fill the seats of representatives who had either resigned or been removed for missing too many meetings since elections last March.
In an interview on Nov. 9, MSA President DeAndree Watson said he expected a 10 percent voter turnout. Yesterday, Watson said he was not discouraged by the low turnout because it was the first year that MSA hadn’t held a full election in the fall.
“I think they went pretty well … but I’d like to see more in the future,” Watson said.
LSA Student Government saw a 10 percent voter turnout with 1,652 students voting in the election — a 2-percent decrease from last year’s elections.
Last year, MSA, LSA-SG and the University of Michigan Engineering Council collaborated to promote the fall 2010 student government elections, resulting in a 10.2 percent turnout — an increase from 8.9 percent in fall 2009.
Watson said he expects the turnout for MSA election in the winter term will be higher. Students will vote to elect the next president and vice president of MSA, a student representative for the Department of Public Safety Oversight Committee, MSA representatives and representatives to the student governments of their respective schools or colleges.
“For this to be such a small election, I’m not too surprised that we didn’t get the 10 percent,” Watson said. “I’m sure we’ll see way over 10 percent at the next election, just given its magnitude.”
In an effort to encourage more students to vote in the election, MSA gave students who voted a sticker for discounts at local businesses and free offerings at Mo Mo Tea, Silvio’s Pizza and Necto night club.
Still, participation among graduate students was anemic as Rackham student Patrick O’Mahen, a member of the Graduate Employees’ Organization and a former Michigan Daily columnist, was the only candidate running for one of 10 empty Rackham seats.
Though no Rackham representatives were elected to MSA before last week, Rackham Student Government President Michael Benson said the body sent representatives to MSA meetings to advocate on behalf of graduate students.
Benson said he expects two or more Rackham representatives to continue to attend MSA meetings in the future.
Benson said MSA can be a “forum to communicate” across campus, but it is not always the most effective outlet for graduate students’ concerns.
“MSA could potentially open some doors, perhaps faster,” Benson said. “But I don’t think much is going to change” for graduate student groups like the Graduate Employees’ Organization.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the percentage of students who voted in the Michigan Student Assembly election. A previous headline of the article also incorrectly stated the percentage the turnout fell from last year.