Student Senate elections attract fewer voters

By Andrew Maloney

Several Illinois Student Senate members and candidates gathered in Room 213 to hear the results of campuswide elections Thursday evening. But with questions finally answered, there were still opposing views on how to interpret the results.

Student body president and senior in LAS Jaclyn O’Day attended the announcements and said she was surprised about the number of votes cast.

“I’m pretty taken aback,” she said. “Last year we broke 10,000 votes, and with six trustee candidates, I thought there’d be more of a turnout.”

O’Day speculated that the issue of reinstating Chief Illiniwek, which appeared as a referenda item last year, may have been the reason turnout was higher than the 6,825 who voted this year.

On the other hand, Trent Morrow, a senate member who was not up for re-election, said the number of voters was not surprising. “I’m not surprised by the turnout,” Morrow said. “I thought there might be more because of the number of candidates for trustee, but I guess there’s a limit to how much student campaigning penetrates the campus community.”

In addition to the 40 or so senate seats unofficially filled by the elections, each of the five referenda items up for a vote passed. The item promoting an increase in the Mass Transit District Fee passed by the slimmest margin, with 45.70 percent voting in favor compared to 44.78 percent voting against. Additionally, items advocating for a reduction in the SORF fee as well as the assessment of a fee for women’s and LGBT programming passed by margins of 57.57 percent to 31.15 percent and 48.21 percent to 42.12 percent, respectively.

Morrow agreed that the Chief issue likely increased the number of voters in last year’s election, but said he didn’t think many of the referenda items would pass.

“I heard of a lot of people who were voting against fee increases,” he said.