While students buzzed around campus last week searching out unfamiliar classrooms and the fastest routes between buildings, they also had to account for the slew of tents, clipboards and puppies that mean only one thing: ASUO election week.
Elections took place much earlier this year than last. Current ASUO President Beatriz Gutierrez was elected on April 25 of 2014. The 2015-2016 ASUO president will be decided by the end of week two, which is April 10.
This year’s elections board was aiming to hold the general election during week two, according to Coordinator Monica Nunan, but that was not possible. Two employees in the Office of the Registrar run the elections process on DuckWeb, and they need to be on campus to do so. Nunan said that both these employees would be leaving town during week three and would not be able to run the program as a result. This would have presented problems in the event of a runoff election.
“We would have had to either do the elections week one and week two, or week two and week four,” Nunan said. They went with the first option.
As it happens, the Green Tape Notebook also states that a runoff election must take place within a week of the general, so the other alternative was not really one at all.
According to Sue Eveland, one of the two employees in the Office of the Registrar responsible for organizing elections, holding elections during week one is advantageous and something the ASUO wanted in place six or seven years ago. The reason for this is that among other week one rituals, another thing many students do is shift their schedules around on DuckWeb.
“Traffic is exponentially higher during week one…there’s less dropping and adding of classes during week two, even,” Eveland said.
She said that kind of traffic increases the likelihood of students voting in the general election. “Now you go on and it’s the menu item you see on your screen.”
That effect was not clear in terms of voter turnout this year as compared to last. General election participation on April 3 fell to 3,852, down from 4,561 last year, when the general was held on April 18.
Voting for the general election closed on Friday April 3 at 4 p.m. The voter guide, which was an interactive program engineered by a team from the School of Journalism and Communication, didn’t make it online until Thursday due to the vast number of candidates and short notice. A debate between the three presidential candidates also did not take place until Thursday.
ASUO Senator Andrew Lubash, who has participated in three years of elections, gave another reason for why he thinks holding them so early can hurt the voting process.
“I think campaigns should be allowed to do in-person campaigning before students have a chance to vote, because otherwise students just vote for the first campaign that talks to them,” Lubash said.
Voting for the runoff election continues this week with Miles Sisk of We Are Oregon and Helena Schlegel of UO Forward vying for president. Students can vote on DuckWeb and catch up on all the elections news here.
Follow Kaylee Tornay on Twitter @ka_tornay