In the Michigan Student Assembly election that ended last night, The Michigan Action Party won 15 seats and the Defend Affirmative Action Part won five. Eight write-in candidates and two independents also won seats. MAP swept all nine LSA seats. Turnout among eligible voters was low at 9.6 percent, but higher than the 5.3 percent in last year’s fall elections.
All nine current representatives who were up for reelection (or first-time election for the two who were appointed to vacancies during the last term) retained their places on the assembly.
Election Director Ryan Bouchard said on Tuesday that he expected turnout to be low, in part because he did not have sufficient time to develop get-out-the-vote programs with Information Technology Central Services. If reappointed for the winter election in March, Bouchard thinks he’ll be able to implement some of his ideas, which include advertising the election of University computer backgrounds and links on CTools.
Michigan Action Party Chair Alex Blouin admitted that the presence of one dominant party doesn’t exactly create an exciting atmosphere or inspire many students to vote.
“With more competition, you’d get higher turnout,” he said.
He insisted, however, that the assembly is in good hands when MAP’s candidates get elected. He described the party’s philosophy as pragmatic and without any kind of predominant ideological disposition.
“We’ve tried to make it a party that is accountable to students, wants to get things done, and really cares about the future of Michigan,” he said.
Asked about the prospect of another party emerging, Blouin said he was “not certain at this time that people are ready to step up for that.”
MAP has an if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them philosophy about opposition. “We don’t look at people who run against us as wrong or bad,” said Blouin. He pointed out that representatives Alex Serwer, Andrew Chinsky and Tim Bekkers had all run against MAP at one point, and ran with the party in this election.
Bekkers, an LSA senior, decided to run as an independent for MSA in the last election after resigning from post as vice president of finance in the Residence Halls Association. He lost, but ended up being appointed to a vacant seat for part of this semester. MAP took notice of him, and he joined forces with them for the fall 2008 election. He said that the party’s organized effort has driven him to be a better campaigner. “I’m working a lot harder,” he said.
Bekkers was hesitant to play the blame game with turnout.
“I think part of the problem is apathy on campus,” he said. “But we can’t just blame everyone else.”
He said that MSA needs to work towards making their activity less “irrelevant.”
“We need to be doing things ourselves and making sure we’re actually representing student interests and not spending time on internal things that affect only MSA, like internal structuring,” he said.
Among the hundreds of write-in candidates in the election were President-elect Barack Obama, former Michigan football Coach Lloyd Carr and “MO’ MONEY, MO’ BITCHEZ, MO’ DAR,” a reference to the former MSA president.
Click here to view the complete MSA Fall 2008 Election results