Student Senate’s electronic vote sees more than 10 percent turnout

The number of students that participated in Tuesday’s online Student Senate special election exceeded members’ expectations, President Ray French said.

With a total of 1,110 responses out of the 10,593 students on campus, the election had a 10.5 percent turnout.

“That just shows the effectiveness of online voting,” French said. “I think we’ve demonstrated how much easier it is to use online voting and how much better of a response we will get.”

Students voted to accept or reject a newly proposed amendment to the Student Body Constitution on whether to change Senate election dates and terms of office from the first or second week of March to mid-April.

The amendment passed 940-170 and the changes will take effect immediately.

But French said there was one glitch in the voting process.

For every vote cast, he received an e-mail notification, which kept the voter anonymous, and the number of e-mail responses didn’t correspond with the totals received from the WebSurvey system, he said. Senate received 1,134 e-mails and the system only counted 1,110.

French said he spent a few days going through every e-mail and identified the 24 not counted by the system.

Users probably clicked on the ‘submit’ button more than once in the majority of cases, because the times were very similar, he said. The vote only registered once, but he received an e-mail for every time they clicked.

But in six or seven cases, the times were different, he said.

Senate is waiting to hear from the WebSurvey system to determine what votes are legitimate.

“This was a good learning opportunity for us, but it’s also a little frustration,” he said. “Even if there had been one e-mail that wasn’t counted that still would have been unacceptable. This has to be foolproof for it to be a success.”

The outcome of the election, however, is not in question.

“Either way, the vote was overwhelmingly ‘yes’,” French said.

Vice-President Meghan Charlier said she is pleased with the results.

“It was important to move the election dates. I’m really glad that it did end up passing,” she said.

But even more so, she said she is happy with the amount of student voice in this election.

“It was so exciting to see that people are actually taking part in this. (It was) as much about the results as it was getting students involved, something we’ve been working on all session long.”

French said Senate is currently discussing whether it is a good idea to use online elections in the future.

Freshman Breanna Bohmke said she didn’t see the e-mail sent out to all students about the online election.

“That’s why I didn’t (vote). Otherwise I would have,” she said, adding that online voting in the future might be the way to go. “That’d be a lot easier.”

To further test the online system out, Senate will distribute an online campus survey Thursday through e-mail.

The survey will include questions about campus food options, Senate awareness, a greener campus, academic and financial issues and comment boxes, Charlier said, and will be open until after spring break.

“I think there are just so many different students out there that we can’t always know what they’re thinking,” Charlier said. “This is a perfect way for them to give us some feedback.”