Earlier this week, students across Emory voted in the University-wide elections.
There were some welcomed changes this year, specifically the extended time to vote. We believe that having three days to vote and including late-night times helped boost the amount of participation in this year’s election.
While these changes made voting more accessible, we at the Wheel believe this year’s elections were flawed due to technology problems, poor wording of the amendments referendum and limited information about the candidates.
Last year, when students received ballots corresponding to their credit hour class-standing rather than their graduation year, the Student Government Association (SGA) instituted a new interface to fix the issue. However, the issue persisted for Goizueta Business School students this year, who still received ballots according to the number of credit hours they had taken rather than their year. The Wheel found other students not in the B-school who experienced similar problems.
On top of that, the Elections Board did not anticipate the large voter turnout, which led to ballot error messages and slow loading.
This year’s problems mark a pattern of technological issues with student ballots. The student body should not have to face technological roadblocks that may decrease their incentive to participate in the voting process.
It is time the Elections Board tests these interfaces and ensures that students can easily access the ballot, and the correct one at that.
Furthermore, the wording of the amendments on this year’s ballot was extremely vague and confusing. Students need to know what they are voting for, and it is the ballot writer’s duty to guarantee clear and accurate phrasing.
The terminology of the amendments was outrageously unclear. Phrases like “modernize basic terminology” and “make administrative changes” have no tangible meanings for the layperson. At most, the ballot could have clarified these phrases at the top of the ballot by explaining what these ambiguous phrases mean and how we would see these changes materialize.
Instead of only a few people controlling the wording of the ballot questions, SGA should vote on the wording of these amendments on the ballot before the election process so that the rhetoric of the propositions can be up for debate.
Finally, we recognize that students may not have accessed all of the information about the candidates on the ballot prior to voting.
We suggest the Elections Board place a link in the ballot that leads to one site where students can view each candidate’s statements and platforms. Then, students could have the chance to make an informed decision rather than struggling to pick a name out of a sea of strangers. We recognize that SGA sent out a University-wide email, however, we hope that in the future the list will be more inclusive of all of the candidates and also be attached to the ballot. This will give students who have not kept up with the candidates’ platforms a convenient place to find all of the information they need to make an informed decision.
We at the Wheel recognize the value of representative student government. We hope that the Elections Board will implement these changes in the future to improve voting at Emory University.
The above staff editorial represents the majority opinion of the Wheel‘s editorial board.