Low turnout marks SA runoff

Candidates and election officials said their biggest concern is voter apathy during the Student Association presidential runoff this week, characterizing Wednesday’s 800-student turnout as “very low.” Students can vote Thursday, and Joint Elections Committee members expect to announce results at about midnight Thursday in the Hippodrome.

Though this year’s election almost mirrored past elections with a court dispute, the Student Court’s decision not to hear a complaint brought by former candidate Adam Greenman Tuesday cleared the way for the runoff.

Kris Hart and Steve Sobel stood among supporters outside the Marvin Center throughout the day Wednesday, with many supporters noting that they were campaigning for turnout rather than votes.

“We’re fighting voter apathy,” said SA Sen. Chrissy Trotta (U-CCAS), a Hart supporter. “It’s been difficult to get people to turn out.”

Hart estimated there were fewer than one hundred voters by lunchtime.

“Turnout has been low,” he said, “but we’re doing what we can to get the voters out there.”

Some students inside J Street seemed apathetic, as only 10 of 30 interviewed Wednesday said they were planning to vote.

“I don’t feel informed enough to vote,” freshman Jessica Zdenek said.

Some students said they didn’t support either candidate.

“I just think it’s a bad idea to encourage these people,” senior Emily Filler said. “Whoever gets elected will do pretty much the same thing anyway.”

Sobel campaign officials also complained about low turnout.

“Turnout is still lighter than it should be, but it is heavier than earlier (Wednesday afternoon),” Sobel said. Last year’s runoff between Josh Singer and current SA President Phil Robinson garnered more votes than the general election. Last week, 2,890 students voted for president, cutting the eight-person field to two.

Robinson said it was tough to gauge why students were not voting and noted that this year’s scandals may have affected interest.

“It may be that students are just involved in the SA to come vote. I don’t see that this year,” Robinson said.

Sobel’s three-year-old cousins assisted him in the afternoon, campaigning in Sobel’s yellow T-shirts.

Graham Murphy, former SA presidential candidate, said late Wednesday that he has thrown his support to Sobel.

Election supervisor Christina Vamvas, who heads the JEC, called turnout “very low,” blaming the unusually warm spring weather.

Former SA presidential candidate Jon McDaniel, who now endorses Hart, speculated that the low numbers could help the current SA senator’s campaign.

Medical school students will be able to vote absentee via e-mail during the runoff, a controversial issue that was part of the Greenman complaint.

Vamvas said she received a list of residents who will be on rounds during the election from a medical school dean, and a measure enabling those students to cast absentee ballots via e-mail. Greenman contended that students who would be able to vote normally still e-mailed their votes, an elections bylaw violation.

While Vamvas said election bylaws regarding absentee voting “need some work,” she checks all e-mail votes with the list from the dean and cuts illegal votes.

Greenman said he was disappointed with the Student Court ruling, which voted four to one against hearing the case.

“The court cited time concerns when they refused the case,” Greenman said. “I believe that I raised a valid point, though, and I’m glad the court at least looked at (it).”

Former executive vice presidential candidate Jeff Schrimmer had also initially intended to file a complaint but later declined to do so.

-Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.

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