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Election organizers counter apathy

Karen Langley | Tuesday, February 1, 2005

To help combat traditional student apathy toward campus government elections, this year election organizers have initiated a Rock-the-Vote campaign-style effort to increase voter turnout.The Judicial Council, which oversees the elections, will hold primary debates Thursday at 7 p.m. in LaFortune, They will be preceded by a “meet and greet” with the candidates at 6:30 p.m., said Judicial Council president Brin Anderson. “We are trying to target the student body with publicity. Students will be invited to get involved with the debates, as they will provide the questions that the candidates will discuss,” said Anderson. “After the debates, there will be an ‘O.C.’ watch with refreshments.”Anderson said she hopes these moves will increase interest in student government campaign issues and ultimately motivate students to vote in the upcoming elections. “If you walk through LaFortune while the debate is taking place, you have to take the opportunity to step in and inform yourself. We hope that the student body is willing to hold their leaders responsible,” said Anderson.With the student government presidential primary election less than a week away, several students expressed little interest in the student government elections.”My interest in the election is pretty low,” said Sarah Sheehan, a senior from Lewis Hall. “I’m a senior so it doesn’t really affect me. I used to read the platforms [of previous elections] but I don’t anymore.” Like Sheehan, Greg Schafer, a junior from Keough Hall, noted a pattern of declining relevance in student government during the past several years. “I’m just not that interested. I felt the same way about last year’s election,” said Greg Schafer.Still, Anderson said she is hopeful this year’s election will be different. She cites the large number of candidates and diverse platforms as factors that may lead to greater student interest. “There are six tickets for the primary this year, and we are relying on the candidates to spark interest as individuals through their different platforms. We make the process more accessible, but the accountability is with the student body,” said Anderson. Elections are Monday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. All voting will take place online, and there will be a number of voting stations positioned in LaFortune.Despite the perception of a lack of student interest, sophomore Andrew Cooper said he planned to pay close attention to the elections.”It’s pretty important to me. We need someone good in the presidency. After all of the controversy last year, I hope that the voting works out this year,” said Cooper.