The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Umhoefer, Bretl new Senate leaders

David Taintor

The last time Student Senate held a paper-ballot election, a paltry 604 students showed up to the polls.

That was two years ago when Ray French and Meghan Charlier ran uncontested in one of Senate’s lowest-polling elections ever.

This week’s race – a return to paper ballots after last year’s online vote ended in controversy – saw one of the best turnouts since the early 2000s when it was not uncommon to see more than 1,000 students casting votes during Senate races.

President- and vice president-elect Michael Umhoefer and Amber Bretl ended the race with 607 votes of an estimated 1,407 to beat out the other two contenders. Aaron Brewster and Armon Tabrizi picked up 401 votes, with the Adam Sorelle-Casey Driscoll ticket coming in a close third-place finish with 393 votes. There were six write-ins.

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More than 1,400 students showed up to the polls Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week, with some senators crediting the spike to this year’s three-ticket ballot.

“I think because there’s so many tickets running, we’ve had a good turnout for paper ballots, which is great to see,” Bretl said.

“I think it’s clear throughout the whole election that Michael and Amber were the people with experience dealing with the two biggest issues that are going to come up, being the new Davies Center and the budget,” senatorial hopeful Jacob Kampen said during the election Wednesday afternoon. “They really know what they’re doing, and on top of that they’re really a bipartisan ticket.”

Senate’s return to paper ballots

Despite switching to paper ballots to avoid difficulties posed by an online election, poll workers this week said the old-fashioned ballots weren’t without their share of problems. Wireless Blugold card readers, described by several pollsters as unreliable, created some frustrations. Almost all workers, however, said concerns about voter illegitimacy were small.

“Sometimes it works – which is great – and sometimes it doesn’t .” outgoing vice president and poll worker Meghan Charlier said Tuesday, referring to the wireless card scanner Senate used to verify whether students had already voted.

Other workers said the devices were inconsistent in reading students’ Blugold cards, which meant the workers frequently had to manually check off students’ names on lists provided by the university administration. Workers would later cross-reference the lists to make sure the same names were crossed off, hopefully preventing students from voting more than once.

Outgoing parliamentarian Abou Amara and outgoing secretary Leslie Ballantine both said the problems were probably caused by students’ ID cards rather than by foul-ups with the devices. Bent, overused or demagnetized cards could have been the main culprit, they said.

Amara said earlier this week that as long as poll workers used the proper procedure for checking the lists to ensure students hadn’t already voted before scanning their cards, the election would run smoothly.

Most people working the polls said the issue was mostly a minor one and that they didn’t think the problem would result in controversy over the election results. They also said most voters probably did not know about the problem and would not have taken advantage of voting more than once.

“Last year it seemed like every two hours there was a problem with online voting,” Ballantine said. “I would come into the office and everybody would be freaking out about some problem, and this year it’s not every hour – maybe it’s every day there’s something new they’re being called attention to. It’s not at all like last year, which is good.”

Election winners:
President-Vice President
Michael Umhoefer-Amber Bretl

On-campus senators
Janna Caspersen
Chrissy Duszynski
Danielle Gannon
Ryan Heath
Jacob Kampen
Katelyn Kufahl
Phillip Plager
Davendra Raj
Phillip Rynish
Sarah Tweedale
Lauren Woods
Yan Ying Lee

Off-campus senators
Bethany Aronhalt
Blaine Balow
Aaron Brewster
Brittany Doyle
Andrew Dybevik
Tyler Flanagan
Dylan Jambrek
Jake Johnson
Justin Koch
Eric Meyers
Paydon Miller
Courtney Parker
Matt Schulman
Maxel Schultz
Allison Shilling
Brittany Smith
Caroline Wee
Aaron Wingad

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Umhoefer, Bretl new Senate leaders