It took an adjustment, but candidates and campaigners in this year’s student election followed the new rules about how they could collect votes.
According to the new rules, those collecting votes on campus could not tell students who to vote for or be in view of the screen on which a student was voting. Instead, they were urged to ask questions like, “have you voted today?” Student Body President Sarah Ramaker, a senior dance major from Midland, Michigan, said the rules were added this year after complaints from last year, when campaigners were allowed to confront students with devices and tell them how they should vote on the spot.
Ramaker said because of the new rules, campaigners had some difficulty figuring out how to collect votes for their candidate without breaking the rules, but students felt less coerced on how to vote this year.
“Some of [the campaigners] said ‘this is hard,’ but I was like, ‘yeah, it’s good,’” Ramaker said. “For the most part, they were all respectful of the rules.”
Ramaker said she didn’t hear about anyone breaking the rules, but if someone had, “little things like that always happen.”
Many voters said they did not feel coerced to vote a certain way this year. Hannah Steele, a sophomore nursing major from St. George, said she was asked to vote by someone wearing an “Ez 4 Prez” shirt, but the campaigner followed the rules and did not pressure her to vote a certain way. Steele said she felt like the election was fair, but she didn’t know anything about the candidates.
“To be honest, I voted for the people with the coolest names,” Steele said. “I could have invested myself to find out more about the candidates before I voted.”
The Dixie State University Student Association decided to forgo the traditional candidate debate this year and do a forum instead, where students could ask candidates questions to learn more about their platforms. James Kener, a senior English major from Murray and election committee chair, said this was a beneficial change that cut down on the tension for the candidates.
“There was a lot less drama this year all around,” Kener said.
Kener said they received about 300 less votes this year than they had last year, but “although the numbers vary from year to year, it was still pretty consistent.”
“There were those rule changes that may have made it more difficult for candidates because they weren’t allowed to be as abrasive, but at the same time, I was very confident with the candidates ability to reach out to the students regardless,” Kener said. “Those who wanted to vote were given the opportunity to.”
Kener said the election committee tried to make sure everyone knew where to vote and about the voting dates through social media to include as many students as possible in the voting process. However, those who wanted to vote in the primary election couldn’t do so from their home.
The voting website only worked on the DSU Wi-Fi network during the primaries. Kener said he didn’t know why the website was broken, but after reaching out to the IT department, it was fixed before final elections opened.
In the future, Kener and Ramaker both said they hoped the new rules will continue to be enforced in years to come. Kener said one change they’ve considered is having more students unaffiliated with a candidate on the election committee who would volunteer to go out and collect more votes.
“Like all rules, there are things that can be improved, and perhaps the people ahead of us can do a better job on nailing down those details,” Kener said. “We just want it to be fair for all students.”