Wow, 4,985 votes in a Ball State SGA election. I would have never thought in my four years here that I would see such a voter turnout. Much of this could be attributed to the slate campaign efforts, the outstanding media coverage or the spark of interest in the affairs of the student government. While I’d like to believe that achievement is the result of pure, positive work, I feel as though this year’s numbers are a reflection of an intense, malicious election process.
I served as the Sheriff on the elections board, and I must say, this election pushed the boundaries of ethics and integrity across the board. I will not sit here and say that it was only campaigns because that’s simply not true. Even on my end, I now realize how much a hasty decision can affect the entire reputation of an organization. Lack of communication, personal attacks, uncalled-for campaign interferences and quick decisions clouded the overall success of this election.
While I am glad to see support for the student government from the students, I believe some students’ methods of support are questionable – making verbal attacks, making false calls to the police, messing with campaign materials, insulting people on social media and pestering students. It’s not the campaigns themselves, but rather their loyal following of supporters. It’s a Ball State election. Yes, it’s important to represent student interests, but we’re not running a country here. Calm down.
In future elections, I would like to see the campaigns hold their supporters to the standards to which they hold themselves. Hassling students to vote through sending out emails through blackboard and approaching students with computers might seem like good campaign tactics, but these biased approaches to encourage blind voting is irresponsible.
The Student Government Association and their representatives should encourage responsible decision making by taking a neutral approach to the election and tailoring their elections strategies to fit the average students who aren’t involved in SGA. When I say strategies, I don’t mean shoving the elections down every students’ throat because that was completely ridiculous this year. Sacrificing credibility to increase a number is the quickest way to decreasing a reputation.
Moving forward, I would like to see stricter policies that ensure that dirty campaigning, questionable decisions and collusion do not influence the result of the election. The campaigns and their supporters should encourage informed voting and not pester the students for a number. Finally, the elections board representatives should work with the campaigns to ensure a fair election.
I think this election will provide SGA with a stepping-stone for making future elections run more honestly, smoothly and transparently.
These thoughts are my own.
Elections Board sheriff
Student Government Association