USG polls close with roughly 6,000 votes

More than 5,500 students voted in this year’s Undergraduate Student Government election, falling short of USG’s 7,000 voter target.

The polls closed on Thursday at 8 p.m., culminating a three-week campaigning process and three days of voting.

The election committee would not provide the exact number of students who voted but disclosed that there were approximately 5,500 ballots submitted three hours before the polls closed. They predicted the final total would be close to 6,000.

The numbers are just under last year’s turnout of 6,300.  USG officials have attributed the drop to a change from the four days of voting in previous years to three days this year. The reduction was financially motivated, as each day of voting requires the hosting of a polling area and food trucks, which proved to be a financial burden for USG.

Another factor that might have contributed to the lower turnout was the presence of just two tickets, as opposed to last year’s three, on the ballot this year.

This year’s election also faced online network errors, as some students reported issues when logging in to vote.

Rumors on the number of students hindered by the technical difficulty circulated on campus. The Providence-Ehren presidential ticket posted on its Facebook page that there were 1,000 students locked out of the system. The post was later deleted.

Christine Hennes, USG senior director of communications, verified that a number that large was false, though she doesn’t believe the ticket had bad intentions. Though USG didn’t have an exact number of students affected, Hennes was personally aware of only fewer than 10 who were.

Providence Ilisevich said that the number they posted was incorrect information from someone on their campaign team, and that it wasn’t meant to misinform voters.

“It was just the heat of the moment,” she said.

Those students who were not able to vote were advised to either submit a paper ballot available at the six voting booths on campus or email the USG Election Committee with their student ID and decision. Hennes said that with only 25 paper ballots submitted on Thursday, she was confident that the error did not affect many students.

“Technical difficulties could have contributed to a small number of votes being lost due to people not taking their own responsibility to vote on a paper ballot,” she said “But overall, I don’t think was a [major] issue.”

The error, though, did prove to be a slight challenge for the two tickets, as both of them shared that a handful of students reached out to them on social media about being unable to vote.

“Right now I’m just trying to save those individuals who couldn’t log on,” Sampath said. “It’s so nerve-wracking, especially with how long and hard we’ve been working, to know that there’s issues with the system.”

Overall, however, Hennes stressed that the elections proved to be a positive week.

“I think it was really successful,” she said. “Logistically everything went very smoothly this year, and we were really happy with the activism and support from both tickets.”