USG polls close, about 5,600 votes cast

An estimated 5,129 students voted online and approximately 500 voted using paper ballots for the Undergraduate Student Government elections. The polls closed at 8 p.m. Thursday, according to Juan Orjuela, Elections and Recruitment co-chair.

USG hoped to get 6,000 votes, over one third of the undergraduate population.

“We’re pretty happy with the numbers right now,” Orjuela said. “Even though it’s a little below our goal, we’re pretty happy with the results.”

Last year, 4,561 students voted online and 125 students voted by paper ballots. The significant increase in paper ballots is due to the inclement weather Tuesday and internet problems at the Lyon Center and Finger Fountain polling locations.

“On Wednesday we got a lot of paper ballots because of the rain,” Orjuela said. “We couldn’t use the computers at certain locations because they could get wet.”

Because some people could vote both using paper ballots and online, Orjuela estimates that 400 of the paper ballots will count for a total of approximately 5,500 votes.

USG attributed the overall increase in voting to providing food at peak hours and increased publicity about voting. The Tommy Trojan poll had food trucks all three days from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“I counted about 60 people waiting in line when we had the In ‘n Out Truck.” said Mikey Geragos, a Greek Senator who volunteered at the polling stations. “The line was consistently that long for a good hour and a half.”

The other polling booths gave pizza and water to voting students.

“In years past we’ve served breakfast and had donuts at polls, but we learned that almost no students come out to vote early in the morning,” said Liz Trower, Director of Communications. “That’s also why we moved back the poll opening times from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and closing times to 6 p.m.”

Competition also increased because more total candidates, 28, ran this year than in the past four.

“There weren’t any major problems, we increased voter turnout and everything went smoothly,” Orjuela said. “We’re really happy and excited about how things went.”

The unofficial election results will be announced Tuesday at the weekly senate meeting in the Campus Center.

For more coverage on the 2011 USG elections, click here.