Officials discuss low SGA election turnout, voter fraud allegation

Only 488 out of an eligible 6,637 students voted in the recent SGA officer election that was held March 12 to 14—a decrease from last year’s election, which brought in 594 votes, said SGA adviser Tammy Jacques.

Jacques said it was surprising to see so few students turn out for the election, especially in comparison to the 2011 homecoming king and queen election, which brought in 801 student votes.

Will Riley, who received the majority vote to become next year’s SGA president, said he was discouraged by the voter turnout because this year’s candidates were much more engaged with individual campaigning, a presidential on-campus debate and had better collaboration with the student body.

With voter turnout much lower than anticipated this year, officials are also investigating allegations that a student may have falsely used another student’s L number to vote during the election.

Jacques said a UNA student claimed last week that she tried to log in to vote and the eBallot system stated she had already voted in the election when she had not. Since the speculation was made, Jacques said she is carefully investigating the matter and contacting the eBallot system to track the IP address to determine if the allegation is true.

“There’s not enough evidence yet, but we’re still following the right steps to see what happened,” she said.

Jacques said there are a number of issues as to why few students turn out for SGA elections, including the fact that there aren’t many people running for positions in student government at UNA.

“We need more students engaging in running for officer positions so the students have a choice,” she said. “SGA needs to continue to work on publicity and in trying to promote (the organization).”

Jacques also said many UNA students don’t understand the importance of student government on campus in terms of the impact the organization has on the university as a whole.

“It’s easy to complain (about issues) on social media but not get engaged and involved to make a difference,” she said. “The voter turnout is disappointing in that there are not more students who are engaged in the process. You can’t make a difference unless you get your hands involved in that process.”

Riley said the low number of votes was a lesson learned for SGA and that the incoming executive council will brainstorm for new ideas to increase voter turnout in the future.