The Undergraduate Student Government Senate voted unanimously at their weekly meeting Tuesday night to approve changes to the election code to extend voting for USG elections by an extra day. Rather than starting on Tuesday, as it has in the past, voting in elections will begin on Monday and run through Thursday. The move comes in response to concerns over low voter turnout.
“The hope is that having an additional day of voting will increase student turnout,” said Taylor Rottjakob, co-director of elections and recruitment and the architect of the change in the election rules.
Last year’s election brought 5,631 students to the polls, a 100-ballot increase from the previous year. USC’s total undergraduate population last year was 18,316.
Though changes to the election code are the prerogative of the directors of elections and recruitment, they must be approved by a vote of the Senate. Commuter senators Brett Ressler and Matthew Leiv voiced concerns about having full voting on Monday. An amendment was proposed and ratified that will remove voting booths from Hahn Plaza, the plaza in the center of campus where Tommy Trojan is located, on Monday only.
Hahn Plaza is traditionally where candidates campaign on the final days leading up to the election. The existing election bylaws, however, prohibit candidates from campaigning within 50 feet of a voting booth. Because commuter senators are often off-campus during the weekend, Ressler and Leiv wanted to ensure that candidates for commuter senator would still be able to campaign on Monday, said Olivia Diamond, senior director of communications for USG.
The vote followed presentations by the International Student Assembly on upcoming events they have planned and by External Relations on their recent accomplishments in marketing.
Follow Anshu on Twitter @AnshuSiripurapu