Last Thursday, the Student Senate held its yearly elections for the freshman class. The students elected four members of the Class of 2016 to be senators, as well as the 2016 Class Council. For this election, the turnout was a dismal 33.33 percent. This is down from last year’s 43.30 percent—which itself is a decrease from the 2010 freshmen elections, in which there was a turnout of 48.48 percent. This decrease presents a worrying trend. Traditionally, the freshmen class is the most active class in all campus-wide elections. If the turnout for this early election is low, The Poly is concerned about the potential effects on the Grand Marshal Week elections next April.
Voting is perhaps a student’s most important way to voice his or her opinions. Student senators and class council members are meant to be student body representatives. Without a significant voter turnout, it is hard to tell if the newly-elected senators and council members truly represent what the student body wants. Make your voice heard, and cast your vote during class elections.
In addition, several of the elections were close—the final open position for class senator was separated by only four votes, and a class representative had a tie for the last position. These were not isolated events; such close elections have happened before. Indeed, the elections for GM, one of the highest elected positions a student can hold, were separated by 13 votes last year, and elections for President of the Union were separated by less than 100 votes. Such close count separations highlight the importance of an individual student’s vote, regardless of the election in question.
On a related topic national elections are coming up soon, and The Poly also encourages voting in those elections. For those who find themselves far from home, remember to register for absentee ballots. Registration dates are set individually by state and/or county, and many have their due dates set 30 days before elections, which is on November 6. It is also important to note that RPI students can register to vote in Troy. The process is the same as registering to vote elsewhere; proof of residency and citizenship is required. For those who are interested in learning how to register, there will be information tables set up this week in the Darrin Communications Center and Commons Dining Hall.