Elections pull in 2,858 voters

In an election that saw even an H Street pretzel vendor receive six votes for Student Association president, voter turnout was “very, very good,” said Joint Elections Committee Chair Terry Goddard.

Voter turnout was estimated at 2,858, exceeding last year’s count – then the highest since 1989 – by almost 200 students.

“We weren’t expecting voter turnout to be this high,” said JEC member Skip Oliva. “The committee ran the election fairly and the rest just sort of happened.”

But for many of the campaign strategists, managers and supporters, a lot of work went into bringing voters to the polls.

“If you want to get elected to office you actually have to do something,” said Columbian School of Arts and Sciences Senate candidate Peter Littleton, wrapping his arm around his campaign manager.

After weeks of grandstanding, palmcarding and lollipop distribution, Thursday morning brought the chance for candidates to finally reap the benefits of their efforts to drum support.

One of four CSAS undergraduates to win a Senate seat, Zach Radford said he is very pleased with the turnout.

“My supporters were out on the sidewalks holding signs, taping up posters and handing out palm cards for me,” Radford said. “This race has been a microcosm of what politics is all about.”

The large number of candidates running for Senate was a major factor in this year’s polling numbers, Oliva said. Many of the candidates brought with them large constituencies that might not otherwise have voted.

“I think the voter turnout is high this year because of support from friends,” said Alexis Rice, who captured one of the CSAS spots. “You are getting people who are becoming involved just because their friends are running.”

According to voter tallies released by the JEC, the most votes were cast in the Columbian School race for undergraduate senator – more than 3,670. The election results also showed a strong turnout in Thurston Hall.

Active campaigning by candidates and hard work on the part of the JEC meant an overall victory for this year’s campus elections, Goddard said.

Some candidates said they felt their potential voting block was diluted because so many candidates ran, but many office seekers said a larger part of the GW community was represented in this year’s elections than in past years.

“The number of candidates may have hurt the outcome a little,” said Lonnie Giamela, a losing candidate in Columbian School race. “But hopefully people’s awareness of issues will be raised and the school will be better represented.”

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