After collaborative efforts between the Michigan Student Assembly, LSA Student Government and University of Michigan Engineering Council, voter turnout in student government elections last week was up from last year — though student government officials say they’d like to see an even bigger increase next election cycle.
Fall student government elections, which took place last week, saw an increase in voter turn out, rising from 8.9 percent to 10.2 percent.
While the different student governments across campus have previously campaigned for their individual elections, MSA, LSA-SG and UMEC decided to combine budgets and campaign efforts in an attempt to get more students to the online polls.
In an interview yesterday, Sagar Deshpande, MSA elections director, spoke about the assembly’s reaction to the voter turnout in this election in comparison to other years.
“While the increase isn’t as large as we hoped, we are glad to see an increase,” Deshpande said.
Deshpande added that he believed the collaborative efforts of MSA with LSA-SG and UMEC contributed to the increase in voter turnout.
“A large number of factors go into voter turnout, (MSA) being just part of it,” Deshpande said. “I believe that this past election was less contested than previous elections, however, I believe that our work did do a great job of helping push that turnout up, regardless.”
In an e-mail interview on Friday, LSA junior Zach Berlin, elections director for LSA-SG, commended the efforts of the student governments to increase voter turnout among the student body.
“(LSA-SG), UMEC and MSA’s collaborative efforts were steps in the right direction, and we are looking to forward to exploring other ways to get more people engaged in government activities,” Berlin wrote.
The exact voter turnout numbers for the student government elections had previously been delayed by a batch of exception ballots.
“An exception ballot is simply any student who votes who isn’t known to be affiliated with a particular school,” Deshpande said. “So that simply means that this year either there were students who weren’t already on the list of students from the different schools who said that they were and we need to validate whether those students are indeed in the school they claim to be.”
Deshpande explained that the exception ballots are an issue of students representing themselves, and not an issue that MSA was able to control in the election.
Additionally, complications with ITS in the election for the School of Nursing also caused delays in releasing the final voter turnout numbers.
In an interview last week, Deshpande told the Daily that ITS had used an incorrect eligibility list when setting up the election for School of Nursing students. ITS corrected the problem and contacted Nursing students to explain the issue. MSA also extended the Nursing election by 24 hours to allow students who may have previously experienced complications to vote.
The error also caused a larger number of exception ballots, which underwent the same review process as in the rest of the student government election.