As of 12:01 a.m. today, the polls opened for one of the most contested Central Student Government elections in recent history as five pairs of students vie for the presidential and vice presidential seats and more than 100 students seek to fill representative positions.

CSG President and LSA senior DeAndree Watson, who handily won his election last year, said this year’s election is more competitive than in years past.

“The enthusiasm and the energy that’s present with the candidates in this election definitely surpasses what I’ve seen in previous elections,” Watson said.

Watson added that this election may attract students who hadn’t previously voted or paid attention to student government due to the vast array of candidates that hail from numerous student organizations and cover a wide range of issues.

“This is the perfect opportunity for students who haven’t really participated or been engaged in student government elections or student government in general to get involved in the process,” Watson said. “There are so many people that cover such a broad range of identities and student organizations and interests on campus.”

Election director Peter Borock, a Law student, said he expects higher than usual turnout for the election because of the high volume of candidates.

“We’re really excited to have really high voter turnout this year,” Borock said. “The average is about 10 percent, but we’re hoping for even higher than usual.”

The OurMichigan, youMich, MForward and Defend Affirmative Action parties and independents Manish Parikh and Omar Hashwi have been campaigning heavily throughout campus by chalking and distributing flyers, and the Students for Puppies party is scheduled to be on the Diag with puppies today.

Borock added that while a 10-percent turnout seems unimpressive, it would actually be considered successful.

“We’ve had turnout as low as 5 percent … anything above 10 percent and we’d be happy,” he said.

To aid student voters, Borock sent out a campus-wide e-mail yesterday that contained the platforms of all of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates and instructions on how to vote.

Parties running executive slates include youMICH, MForward, OurMichigan and Students for Puppies. The Defend Affirmative Action Party, while not running an executive slate, is running candidates for representative positions. There is one presidential and vice-presidential pair running independent of a party.

In this election, many candidates and parties have garnered endorsements from campus groups and University notables including Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson who endorsed MForward.

LSA junior Aditya Sathi, vice speaker of the CSG assembly, is running for president with MForward and took several photographs with Robinson, wearing MForward apparel.

Sathi and his running mate, LSA sophomore Louis Mirante, are also endorsed by the president and the vice president of the Student Association of Michigan, a coalition organization comprised of Michigan’s 15 public universities.

Sathi is not the only candidate endorsed by a popular University athlete. Michigan guard Zack Novak, was in a campaign video for Business junior Manish Parikh and LSA sophomore Omar Hashwi, an assembly representative. As of 3 a.m. the video had nearly 5,000 hits on YouTube.

Hashwi said their campaign has also reached out to ethnic groups on campus by sending e-mails to community members in languages such as Chinese and Greek.

Public Policy junior Kevin Mersol-Barg, an assembly representative, and LSA junior Amy Navvab received an endorsement from the University’s chapter of College Democrats for their OurMichigan platform. In last year’s election, the College Democrats endorsed the MForward candidates for president and vice president.

LSA sophomore Alexandra Brill, chair of the University’s chapter of College Democrats, said Mersol-Barg and Navvab’s past experiences made them an obvious choice for endorsement.

“This year, Kevin, who’s formed a Coalition for Tuition Equality, and Amy, who’s the chair of the Open Housing Initiative … they have clearly done much more for progressive causes than Aditya and Louis (the MForward candidates),” Brill said. “We felt that they more justly represent what we feel our student government should be.”

Mersol-Barg and Navvab also received the endorsement of the Graduate Employees’ Organization, the union representing University graduate students. Rackham student Liz Rodrigues, GEO’s communications chair, said Mersol-Barg and Navvab’s campaign had values closely resembling those of GEO.

“Their stated goals definitely align with GEO’s mission statement,” Rodrigues said.

She also lauded the candidates’ history of reaching out to organizations on campus “to achieve concrete goals.”

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