College News

Voting for your student representatives: What you need to know

Last spring, the voting turnout was only nine percent, but Student Election Commission Chair Kate Wehrman said ASM is working to improve that number for the spring elections.

Image By: Leah Voskuil

UW-Madison students will be able to cast votes this week for the Associated Students of Madison representatives who will be sworn in at the end of the spring semester and will shape policies for students as well as make decisions on segregated fee spending.

The election runs from 8 a.m. Monday, March 12 through 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 14. Prior to voting, students can also check out the updated candidate matrix in order to learn more about each of the candidates, many of whom are new faces.

11 current representatives are running for reelection to Student Council. Two current representatives are running for reelection onto Student Services Finance Committee while several members of the body will continue to serve as part of their two-year terms.

This election is the first that will create reapportioned seats. In September, Student Judiciary — ASM’s judicial branch — made a decision that eliminated the four freshman representative seats and redistributed them to Business, Engineering, Graduate and Special. The reapportionment happens every four years and is based on the number of students in each school or college, which can fluctuate.

“[Freshmen representatives] were a special status not given to incoming graduate students, transfer students, or any other student population that was new to the university,” Chief Justice William Olson said at the time. “We reached the consensus that with reapportionment we should aim to provide equal voice to all students and not create special classes among the student body.”

Student Election Commission Chair Kate Wehrman said she hopes that the elimination of the freshman elections will have a big impact and provide “more momentum for the spring elections.”

In spring 2017, ASM saw a nine percent voter turnout, down from 11 percent in spring 2016. However, Wehrman said at the time that this was unsurprising given the turnout from past years, as well as fewer students running on a ticket platform like the Blindside group in 2016.

To combat the low voter turnout, Wehrman said ASM increased their social media presence, including a Snapchat filter to remind students about the elections. Additionally, Wehrman said they are enhancing the email campaign which now has an informational graphic that shows students the number of representatives from each school:

ASM Chair Katrina Morrison said some schools have more candidates compared to past years, while others have fewer. The College of Letters and Sciences, for example, which Morrison said usually has 30 candidates, has 19. CALS, which usually has two to three, has six this year.

“I feel like in some schools, the turnout or the number of candidates running is higher than expected and other schools it’s lower than expected,” Morrison said. “I think it shows we’ve done some excellent outreach to certain areas of campus, but still definitely need to refocus on other areas.”

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