April 13, 2015
In the past several years, SGA has recognized the need for student participation in both voting and running for positions.
Sabrina Wienholtz, assistant director of Student Life and Leadership, said voter participation has improved over the years.
In 2010, 600 to 700 students voted. About 1,900 students voted in the most recent election. Wienholtz explained what SGA has done to increase voter participation.
“So, the last three years specifically, I know they’ve done a lot of work to both promote the elections, and then to get people to vote,” she said.
This year, these promotions included free shirts, candy, stickers and slices of pie.
“Student government has worked really hard, made it a priority. And the results have been there,” Wienholtz said.
SGA also encourages participation by going out on campus, sending emails and awareness programming.
Wienholtz also said that SGA has worked to explain the importance of participating as a candidate in the elections.
“You need to have contested races, you need to have people running for things. Because, if not, why would you vote?” she said.
Wienholtz recalled when one presidential race was run uncontested. This year was different.
“We had four or five that were [contested], and every position had somebody run in it, so they’ll be starting with a full student government next year,” she said.
Multiple ways exist for students to cast their votes in SGA elections, from voting tables to email. It’s all done electronically, and the software used for elections has changed over the years, Wienholtz said.
Now, the university uses a different, less expensive method.
“A couple years ago, we were working with our institutional research department here on campus, and found out we could do the exact same thing for free if we used Qualtrics,” Wienholtz said.
Qualtrics is what institutional research uses for surveys. The platform offers high quality and secure methods for voting through individual email links, Wienholtz said.
Wienholtz explained that student credentials have to be used when utilizing the link, and the link can only be used once.
“You can’t take your link and give it to someone else,” she said.