Uncontested SGA election sees low voter turnout

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The 2018-19 Student Government Association President and Vice President were chosen prior to spring break in an election that featured a voter turnout of 42.

Austen Hall will enter his first term as president while Reece Christensen will return as vice president. Christensen said that his return will allow Hall and himself to continue the work that was done by the current administration.

“We’re going to make sure that the things that we did remain changed,” Christensen said. “Basically we don’t want the stuff that we fought for to be lost on the next [SGA] administration. That’s kind of why I ran again, so we could have some continuity across administrations.”

Christensen said that student involvement will be a focus going forward. He said that this semester’s walkout demonstration was a start to achieving that goal.

“I think a big part of that was what we’ve done this year- actually making it so student government is actually [run] by students and isn’t just a proverbial pawn of the administration,” Christensen said. “Beginning this semester, we’re going to need more interaction with students.”

Hall and Christensen ran on a platform that emphasized student fee allocation, student safety, intra-campus relations external relations with St. Joseph and Jefferson City.

The election was the second consecutive uncontested presidential and vice presidential race. Additionally, there were not enough candidates to fill all 20 senate seats. The lack of context led to both a low voter turnout and a smooth election. SGA Chief Justice Allen Irving said that no grievances were brought up.

“It was nice and smooth,” Irving said. “The vice president and president didn’t have anyone to run against, so we didn’t really have any grievances.”

A possible reason for the low voter turnout was a lack of advertising relative to others years. Irving said that the Judicial Branch ran into roadblocks that hindered their ability to advertise.

“It’s just the fact that we had to push some dates back and it just became inconvenient to a lot of justices and things like that,” Irving said. “It was a little hard to get things going, but we eventually figured out.”

Director of Public Relations Landon Houghton said that the advertising campaign was standard.

“We did a two-tier advertising campaign for this one,” Houghton said. “We ran posters and handbills to announce that elections were happening and that you could apply. And then the second tier was to announce when elections would run.”

Houghton said that several factors led to the low turnout, but that the lack of a Greek candidate was being overlooked.

“One thing I think that matters that people don’t look at is the lack of a Greek candidate on this,” Houghton said. “If you went and looked at numbers, every year there’s been a Greek candidate the numbers have been higher because they can get their organization to back them, their organization gets the other Greek organization to back them. On this particular ballot, without a Greek candidate, you lose the support of Greek life as a whole.”

Houghton said that the lack of competition limited the way in which SGA was able to advertise.

“There’s no way to get interactive advertising with [the] election without contest,” Houghton said. “If there had been a contest, we could’ve advertised debates and political rallies, but when it’s just one candidate running it’s hard to advertise ‘hey come out and see this person talk about ideas and it doesn’t matter if you care or not because they’re going to be voted in.’”

SGA is still looking to fill the remaining seats in both the current Senate and next year’s Senate. In addition, it is in the process of selecting its executive board for the upcoming school year.