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Senate aims for high voter turnout for fall elections

Published September 26th, 2013

Student Senate officials hope a high number of UW-River Falls students vote in the fall election, which runs from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1.

There are three different kinds of positions open and a total of seven positions up for election, according to Elections Commissioner Mohammad Battah. One at-large senator position, one College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) representative position, and four first year representative positions are the current vacant positions.

Battah urged students to vote in the fall election, since the students elected will be directly responsible for many facets of campus.

“We encourage all students to vote,” Battah said. “Student Senate is a body formed for the students.”

Senate President Sam Tauchen agreed with Battah and said that Senate is “comprised of students, for the students.”

The vacant positions have different requirements for application. Any student can apply for the at-large senator position, but only students in CAFES can apply for the CAFES representative position. The first year representative positions are open to students currently in their first year at UWRF, which does not necessarily mean only freshmen.

All representatives and senators must attend Senate meetings, belong to at least one committee and maintain Senate office hours. College representatives have an additional duty to maintain a relationship with their college deans and departments and bring any college concerns to Senate meetings.

Battah has been working around the clock to get students excited for the fall election, which is an online election that will be sent to all students’ email inboxes beginning Sunday morning. He has advertisements on the access televisions and tables located in the University Center, but admits that students may not know a lot about Senate and what it actually does for UWRF students.

“The one thing I ask of students is if they don’t know something about Senate, ask,” Battah said.

He added that he does not want students to pass on bad information if they don’t understand something Senate does. He also recommended that students attend Senate meetings if they want to have their voices heard.

“All opinions will be taken into consideration,” Battah said. “Student Senate is nothing without opinions from the student body.”

Unfortunately, voter turnout has been extremely low according to Student Senate Advisor Paul Shepherd, who is also the director of Student Life.

Junior Kelly Aukes said that she probably will not vote in the fall election.
“I don’t really know much about the candidates. I wouldn’t want my vote to be random,” Aukes said.

On the other hand, sophomores Will Larson and Kristopher Nelson said that they will be voting, partially because they are friends with Senate President Tauchen.

Shepherd said that the biggest challenge with Senate is getting the word out about the importance of Senate and mentioned that one option in the future might be to move toward a paper ballot instead of a virtual election.

This semester, Battah decided to spearhead a new way to make the election exciting. Every two hours, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., the voting tally will be counted and updated on OrgSync. Battah said that he hopes a running tally will make students more excited about voting.

The Falls Room in the University Center will open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 30, to allow students to vote.

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