More candidates, more voters?

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

In the next few weeks, hundreds of candidates and campaign workers will take over campus for student government elections.

With four parties running in the Associated Students of the University of Utah elections, about 260 candidates are vying for positions as president, vice president and senior class president as well as positions in the Senate and General Assembly.

Last year’s ASUU elections were between only two parties and closer to 100 candidates.

Students working on the campaigns also add significant numbers to election involvement.

Elections Registrar Lorraine Evans said that most campaigns have core committees and “get out the vote” workers that include between 40 and 60 students, in addition to the 67 candidates running.

Forward Party presidential candidate Rick Pehrson said that along with the 67 candidates on his ticket, he has divided his campaign into two groups-the core committee and chief council. The core committee contains about 20 people and the chief council contains about 15.

“The majority of core committee and chief council members have at least two other people helping them with their responsibilities, bringing the number of people actively campaigning to about 150,” Pehrson said. “There are also others passively helping.”

Student Body President Jake Kirkham said that having more people involved in ASUU elections is a good thing, as it expands student participation and increases the ideas that are offered.

Kirkham also said there is a positive correlation between the number of parties and candidates and the number of students who vote.

In the 2006 ASUU elections, which featured two parties, 12 percent of the student body voted. In 2005, a three-party election, 15 percent of students voted. In 2004, another two-party election, 13 percent of students voted.

With four parties running this year, Pehrson anticipates a higher voter turnout for the upcoming 2007 elections.

“In 2005, after the primaries, there were obviously two very strong parties. The year we’re in now is very similar, except that there are now four very strong parties,” Pehrson said.

Evans said that ASUU has encouraged more election participation this year.

“ASUU is trying to take a bigger load of marketing for this than we have in the past–two full rounds of elections marketing, tons of debates and more intertwining events with other boards like Rock the U and the Presenter’s Office,” Evans said.

During Primaries Week, the Presenter’s Office will host a “rock-the-vote” concert to encourage students to vote.

Evans said she does not believe the increased number of people involved in campaigning will have a negative impact on students.

“Most people want to jump right to the negatives and say that students will be bothered and annoyed, but there is absolutely nothing that generates the kind of energy and dialogue that campaigns do. It’s a great mechanism for informing and involving the student body in the elections process and in ASUU,” Evans said.