Michigan Student Assembly staff anticipate low turnout in this week’s representative election, which began at midnight last night.

Only 5.3 percent of eligible voters turned out for MSA’s fall election last year, while 6.4 percent voted last winter.

As for this year’s election, which decides who will serve as assembly representatives, Election Director Ryan Bouchard said numbers will “probably consistent with the last few years, which has been below 10 percent.”

Voting for this year’s election will be open until Thursday at 11:59 p.m.

Bouchard said he initially intended to try to increase voter turnout by working with Information Technology Central Services to advertise the elections on University computer backgrounds or linking the voting site on the main page of CTools.

“Unfortunately, that’s something that can’t be planned a few weeks ahead of time,” he said, adding that the assembly did not hire him or choose election dates early enough to implement his ideas.

Bouchard said he’s optimistic about implementing changes for the next election in March, though. Chief among the responsibilities for the next election director, Bouchard said, is setting a date for the next election.

For this race, though, representatives vying for seats will have to stick to the same low-tech strategy — handing out flyers on the Diag and putting up signs around campus.

MSA President Sabrina Shingwani, an LSA senior, said higher voter turnout would lead to a more productive assembly.

“There’s so much potential for MSA to make a positive impact on campus. But it can’t be achieved until we have the right people up at the plate,” she said. “We need students to read the platforms, pick out which ideas they think are good, pick out which candidates they believe can really achieve the potential that MSA has.”

There are four incumbent representatives seeking re-election in their current positions: LSA representatives Liz Hadeed and Jordan Salins; Rackham Graduate School representative Michael Benson (who also holds the Student General Counsel position), and College of Engineering representative Sarah Mynhier. LSA representatives Andrew Chinsky and Tim Bekkers, both of whom were appointed last year, are looking to keep their seats.

Three current representatives are running for positions in new schools. Ashley Schneider, currently an Engineering representative, is running for an LSA seat. LSA representatives Jason Raymond and Alex Serwer are both seeking seats representing the Ross School of Business.

About 40 students are competing for 30 open seats. Twenty-five of the positions are full-year seats beginning in January and five are half-year seats made available by vacancies on the assembly. The half-year positions will be awarded to the candidates who are runners-up for the full-year positions.

Sixteen candidates are running on the Michigan Action Party platform, 14 for the Defend Affirmative Action Party and seven are independents.

Students may vote for representatives from the college in which they are enrolled by logging on to http://vote.umich.edu and filling out an electronic ballot. Platform summaries are available for candidates who chose to submit them. Spaces are also provided for write-in candidates. The election period ends Thursday at 11:59 p.m.

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