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Volume 68, Issue 112, Monday, March 17, 2003

Opinion
 

Staff Editorial


EDITORIAL BOARD

Matthew Dulin         Geronimo Rodriguez        Shaun Salnave          Cara Sarelli


Election woes

So, the Student Government Association just wrapped up its election, and the winners are ? sorry, no drum roll necessary ? pretty much the same as last year.

What could have caused those results? Could it have been that only five positions were contested? That only 610 students out of 33,000 cared to vote for the students who would serve their needs ? funded by student fees? 

Voter turnout for SGA has been on the downslide the last couple years. Spring 2001 saw a record 2,611 votes, but Spring 2002 saw less than half that with 1,296. 

With such a low turnout, one could wonder how the election commission even needed a $3,600 budget; one might wonder what the money went toward. 

The money certainly didnit go toward large, expensive signs to make voting locations visible. 

For that matter, it didnit go to cheap signs, either.

The voting locations didnit have anything of the sort. The tables at PGH, Moody Towers, Melcher Hall and other campus locations didnit have anything up to identify the polls to passerby. 

"A lot of people (didnit) know; they thought we were selling something," Mai Nguyen, a worker at the Melcher location, told The Daily Cougar on Thursday.

The volunteer poll workers were paid $6.50 per hour, but that comes nowhere near accounting for $3,600, especially considering that the commission told the Cougar many who signed up to work the polls didnit even show. 

The computers were donated, so they didnit come out of the budget. But ? on the subject of the computers and voter turnout ? many complained that they didnit work for everyone.

The election commission instructed poll workers to use paper ballots when computers wouldnit work, but not all voting locations had paper ballots when the polls opened Wednesday, and early voters were turned away. 

Eric Elizondo, a poll worker at the Moody Towers location, told the Cougar on Wednesday that he had to turn away "about 20 people who could have voted.

"This is the most disorganized voting operation ever," the sophomore chemical engineering major said.

Indeed. 

It is sad that a school with such a large, diverse population only produces 610 voters in an election that affects all students, commuters and residents alike, and their pocketbooks.

Itis even sadder when an election paid for by student fees does the bare minimum to get students involved in the election process.
Send comments to dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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