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Special Elections yield low voter turnout

By Elianna Spitzer

Section: News

November 11, 2016

Special senate elections for Ridgewood, Charles River/567 and off-campus received low voter turnout, according to election result data from Nov. 3.

There were no candidates to choose from on the ballot for Charles River/567 and Ridgewood senatorial seats. The only options available were abstain or other. A student selecting other was able to write in a name. Gabe Walker ’19 won the Charles River/567 seat with three write-in votes. Matt Scheinman ’17 won the Ridgewood seat with two write-in votes.

Twenty-three people voted in the Charles River/567 election. Eight people abstained and fifteen people chose other. Four apartment buildings make up the Charles River residence quad. Each of these buildings house between 70 and 110 students, according to the Department of Community Living website. At least 280 students live in the Charles River residences and only 23 people voted in the election for the senate seat.

Eighteen people voted in the Ridgewood election. Seven abstained and 11 voted other.

Three candidates ran for the position of off-campus senator. A total of 82 students cast votes. The winner, Jonah Skobeloff ’17 received 30 votes. Ten people voted abstain and seven voted other. Maya Dornbrand-Lo ’18 came in a close second with 28 votes.

Abstain must have a majority of votes for a senator to not be elected. If abstain received a majority of the votes in any election, a second election on another date would have to occur. In the original fall election for senatorial seats on Sept. 9, abstain won the vote for Charles River/567.

A special election will also be held if a senator resigns during their term. The winners of the Ridgewood and Off-Campus positions resigned after being elected on Sept. 9.

Fewer people voted in this special election than in the one held in September of 2015. Charles River/567 was the only position that was up for special election this year and last year in the fall. Forty-five students voted including six votes for abstain and seven votes for other.

Write-ins for the Nov. 3 special election included 5G Fish, Mod Cat, Donald Trump and Harambe. In the presidential election on Tuesday, 11,000 people wrote in Harambe.

Advertising plays a major role in voter turnout for Student Union elections, said Student Union President David Herbstritt ’17, in an interview last semester, when he was vice president of the Student Union. After last semester’s elections, the Union began working on finding ways to publicize elections better. Herbstritt felt that voters may be apathetic because they don’t understand the role of a Union senator. “When people hear Student Union they might think midnight buffet or clubs,” said Herbstritt. Most students do not realize that the Union meets with Andrew Flagel, senior vice president of students and enrollment, and that members often speak with the Board of Trustees. “They don’t know how much we really do and how much sway we have,” said Herbstritt.

Every residential area on campus has a single senator representing it. Elections take place yearly. Each senator proposes initiatives affecting their quad. They also serve on committees that focus on issues including club support, bylaws, dining and health and safety. The senate as a whole votes on chartering clubs and maintains the Union Bylaws.

The Brandeis Hoot reached out to Skobeloff, Walker and Scheinman for comment. They did not return comment by press time.

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