By the time the polls closed last night for the student government elections, 7,300 valid votes had been cast, including 6,781 in the Michigan Student Assembly election.
The latter number is down from 7,840 votes last year, when Hideki Tsutsumi won the MSA presidency in a landslide.
Whether Tsutsumi won re-election this year is yet to be known. Final results of the presidential and representative elections will be released Sunday at the MSA Steering Committee meeting.
The website where voting takes place stopped accepting votes at midnight. All of the ballot counting is done by a computer program, so initial results are available immediately.
“It”s very little work for the Election Board,” said Election Board Director Ryan Norfolk.
Norfolk then receives tallies from webmaster Kevin McGowan of the actual voter turnout as well as the number of invalid votes cast. Invalid votes are those made by non-students who may have recently graduated and still have uniqnames or votes for seats in a college other than the one to which a student belongs.
If there are no complications with the election, the Election Board certifies the results and presents them Sunday. Any potential voter fraud is reviewed by the Central Student Judiciary, which can delay the official results of the elections, as has been the case the past two years.
“There”s a lot of complaining from parties about things like illegal postering from other parties, but other than that it”s been a pretty smooth election,” Norfolk said.
Minor violations such as covering other candidate”s posters or campaigning within 50 feet of a polling site can earn candidates demerits but not necessarily removal from the election. Since all voting is now done online, a polling site is defined as any computer logged into the voting website.
Candidates agree that in past elections voter turnout has been their biggest obstacle. Many of them spent yesterday on the Diag trying to get students to the polls.
“Our main goal over the next nine hours is to have fun and gather as many votes as possible,” said LSA sophomore Ben Conway, a candidate running with the Blue Party.
Having fun was not a problem for the candidates and supporters as many breached party lines to celebrate the last day of voting.
“There”s a definite sense of community from everyone out here,” said LSA Student Government candidate Mike Kaplan of the University Democratic Party.
“We”re all getting along out here, we”re not being mean to each other,” said LSA freshman Carrie Rheingans, also with U-Dems. “Today is fun, but the rest of the time it”s competition,” she added.
Several students said campaigning has occupied all of their time for the past two weeks.
“I want my life back,” said Mike Panetta, a Blue Party candidate for LSA-SG.
Campaigning did not end yesterday for the Defend Affirmative Action Party. They plan to demonstrate today in support of LSA senior Ryan Hughes, also known as Friends Rebelling Against Tyranny Party presidential candidate Galaxor Nebulon, who is being charged for violating the Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities.
“There”s no break for us,” said MSA representative candidate Agnes Aleobua of DAAP. “We really campaign all year long.”