Student voting still not up to par

With the last vote tallied in the spring election, USF voter turnout continued to fall below 15 percent. After Maxon Victor was announced winner, the actual vote count for the runoff stood at 4,098 votes. This was a drop from the first election ,in which 4,969 students voted.

The turnout for the first election was 12 percent of the student population. The runoff had nearly 10 percent of the student population. In comparison to state universities UCF and UF, USF has the lowest voter turnout of the three. UCF ranks slightly higher than USF, with 17 percent of its population participating in the vote. UF had 24 percent participation, with 11,586 students voting in its runoff election.

Some students on campus don’t feel voting makes a difference because they can’t connect with the candidates. “Just because they have signs around campus, I still don’t know who they are,” freshman Marley Decosta said.

Campaigning has taken place for the last month, with chalk sketches and billboard-style signs littering the campus. Each of the six campaigns has had its collective signs around campus hot spots.

Voting has been made easier and more accommodating to the commuter population, thanks to an online system that allows students to cast their vote via the Internet. Even still, some students remain apathetic about voting.

“I feel that the online system was adequate because it allows people who are on the run to vote instead of waiting in line,” said political science student Chris Wong. “But people don’t care. Some can’t find a candidate to relate to. I think campaigns need more time to run their campaign so they can mix with the students.”

Some students are unaware of what capacity the president has over decision-making on campus. Along with being a member of the Board of Trustees, the student body president has his hands in virtually every aspect of campus.

“They are the decision-making body and the voice of the students,” newly elected vice president Sameer Ahmed said.

Representatives for each campaign had been out in full force during the election season, with more than 800 new votes being cast this year.

“Personally, I’ll probably vote because I got a lot of fliers and it only takes a couple of seconds,” said senior Della George. “I just don’t think the students see how much it’s going to affect them. I think students need to be more proactive themselves.” If marketing strategies improve, students might not have to deal with the rush election style similar to this year’s election.

“Students don’t know the elections are going on and suddenly six campaigns are handing them fliers, students get fed up already,” Ahmed said.

Year by year voter turnout has increased, but it hasn’t reached the levels that Ahmed would like.

“Ideally, we would love to see 100 percent,” Ahmed said. “We would like to get to the level of the other schools around the state. We need to integrate some of the programs of the other universities so we can get our turnout up.”