OPINION: Write-in candidates are just as legitimate as others

USC students are buzzing about this week’s Undergraduate Student Government presidential and senatorial elections. Posters line Trousdale Parkway, campaign graphics inundate Facebook feeds and campaign candidates attempt to follow as much of the student body as possible on Instagram.

When USG senators Michaela Murphy and Meagan Lane announced an unopposed campaign, two more tickets — Trenton Stone and Mahin Tahsin, and Maxwell Brandon and Grayson Adler — joined the race as write-ins shortly after. Many were worried about the tardiness of their announcements and whether that reflected possible irresponsibility on behalf of the candidates. There is no difference in the legitimacy of write-in or normal tickets. Their names still appear on the ballot, and they are still acknowledged on the USG elections website as official candidates.

The ability to run as a write-in ticket is essential to the USG voting process, as students should never have to settle for only one option for leadership.

Presidential tickets who announce their intent to run by USG’s deadline have almost a month to prepare for their campaign to launch — this lends a considerable advantage. By deciding to run despite the major time setback, the two write-in tickets demonstrate their dedication to serving the student body. Campaigning is tougher for write-in candidates — have to prove their dedication and tenacity by catching up to other tickets.

Write-in tickets are uncommon and not recommended because of the limited time allotted to planning and running the campaign. Running for office is extremely demanding — it entails canvassing, marketing, speeches and debates. However,  both write-in tickets have worked to raise their visibility, gaining traction comparable to the initially announced campaign.

Write-in candidates have proven to be just as qualified as regularly announced tickets in past years at USC. There has never been a time when an elected write-in candidate was unable to enact changes that they had hoped for at the start of their terms, according to the USG elected official records. Much of the framework for these leadership positions are handed over by the last people in office and USG is working to make transitions smoother.

Most of the student body does not know the difference between write-in and normal tickets — the main problem is voter turnout, not whether the presidential and vice presidential candidates are write-ins. In the past four years, less than 25 percent of the student body has participated in USG elections. Rather than worrying whether the write-in candidates are qualified, students should instead work to raise engagement among their peers. They should engage in more conversations about candidate platforms and should vote.

These write-ins are not new faces in USG or the USC political landscape, as both tickets have already been involved in past events and initiatives that affect the entire student body. Both tickets are legitimate, regardless of their position on the political spectrum and their late intent to run. Their status as write-in candidates is irrelevant in light of all they have accomplished so far, and should not be relevant to this race.