We were right: you didn't vote….


Our warning from last week turned into a reality: the ballot for the MCSG executive elections was sent into every student’s e-mail inbox on Monday, but only 700 students turned in their ballots. Although it’s never fair to expect perfect turnout, the fact that much less than half of the student body voted is startling.There are a number of ways to explain this, none of which leave a good taste.

The first, and perhaps most understandable, is that there could have been a low turnout among current seniors. All seniors were eligible to vote, though some might not have felt invested since they will be leaving the school in a month, and some probably didn’t know that they were eligible to vote at all.

That brings up the next scenario. It is likely that a large percentage of the student body were not up to speed with voting procedure. Some students may not have known the elections were conducted through e-mail or might not have known the elections were Monday until it was too late. Also, the e-mail didn’t include any mention of a deadline to vote, so some students might have waited too long, oblivious of a deadline, and missed their chance to vote.

Lastly, as suggested by last week’s staff editorial, some students might not have cared enough about the election to vote. We don’t need to reiterate ourselves, but the implications of this scenario are disappointing at best.

All three are disturbing scenarios. If a campus that enthusiastically participates in national elections can’t even get students to vote in their own student body elections there is a problem. The bottom line is that MCSG is the one holding the stakes in the election, so MCSG needs to take steps to improve voter turnout.

Steps were taken last year with the advent of the online ballot rather than having students have to go to the Campus Center to vote, but further steps need to be taken both to educate voters about how to vote and when to vote far in advance of the elections, and also to raise enthusiasm so the elections cause more stir than a mere blip on the radar of the school year.

As for the results, we’d like to address the referendum to choose the wording to determine what “socially responsible investing means to the Macalester student body.” There was very little information beforehand as to what this referendum meant and why it appeared on the ballot in the first place. Students who actually did fill out their ballots and had no forewarning most likely wouldn’t have known what to make of the referendum. Despite submitting an op-ed to The Mac Weekly about the referendum, MCSG needed to take steps to inform students about it beforehand; as it stands it is not an accurate representation of the views of the majority of the students on campus, both due to low voter turnout and due to the lack of people who understood what they were voting on. Neither the ballot email nor the results email articulate the implications of the wording.

The opinions expressed above are those of The Mac Weekly, as determined by the staff. The perspectives are not representative of Macalester College.