Dane Harmon said he thinks Student Government (SG) could be held accountable to their actions if more people voted.
Harmon, a former SG senator majoring in mathematics, recently created a Web site that not only encourages students to vote, but also acts as a central source of information about the candidates.
The SG Straw Poll Web site, opened Feb. 10, was created to let students support their favorite presidential nominees, voice their opinions and view all of the information about the candidates in one place. Harmon’s site is unofficial and not affiliated with USF or SG.
The site is open to anyone with a USF e-mail account, and each person has the chance to vote for one candidate and against another. The user can also vote for and against all the candidates’ platforms.
“The beauty of that is candidates can see where they’re failing,” Harmon said.
He contacted all of the candidates before the site was launched to receive their approval.
Nicole Randazzo, a presidential candidate, said it is an unbiased database for people to go to and check out all the candidates.
“I think it’s fair because he is not involved with any of the candidates and he basically just took everyone’s platform off their own Web site or Facebook group and put it up,” she said.
Harmon was a senator in the summer and fall of 2006. He has no affiliation with SG and said he created the site to “drive people to the polls.”
However, there are still mixed views of the site from other candidates, such as Gregory ‘Butters’ Morgan.
“I think it was a good resource for the student body, as far as where to get the information from,” Morgan said. “But I do think that there might be some complications because obviously with our low vote turnout already, I wouldn’t want to see students thinking this is the official vote.”
Another problem: there are not enough votes to be an accurate account of what the results might be in the election.
“I realized the problem was that since there’s such a low voter count, there’s no accountability,” Harmon said.
Candidate Ryan Iacovacci echoes that sentiment.
“I think it’s great. It shows a desire to be more involved,” he said. “But statistics are muddled. You never know who has voted.”
Justin Hall, presidential candidate, said his running mate and campaign have tracked voting results through the site.
“I know we are trying to get students involved, we have mentioned it to several students while we hand out fliers,” said Hall. “It’s all about getting student voice. It’s not so much about voting for a candidate, it’s about getting everyone out so we build our voice.”
Candidate Nathan Davison also said the site is good to bring awareness to the student body, but is afraid it could confuse first-time voters.
“It is a new system, it could mislead people to think that they’ve already voted,” he said. “It needs to be taken with a grain of salt.”
Justin Bragan, presidential candidate, said he isn’t familiar with the site but knows that anything to get students involved is crucial.
“I think it is going to be hard to really use or be effective unless a lot of people are doing it,” he said. “I mean, it being such a new idea, I think it’s going to be plagued by low turnout. I think it is a good idea, though.”
As of press time, the site had 142 members casting a total of 1,827 votes for and against platforms. In last year’s election, 3,544 students voted. The Web site is sgstrawpoll.com.
Additional reporting by Amy Mariani.