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Voter turnout plummets in Student Association fall election

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Less than a third of students cast a ballot in the Student Association’s fall election — a sharp decrease from last year’s election numbers.

A total of 1,253 students cast a ballot in the span of a two-day election between Sept. 12 and 14 which filled 24 vacant senate seats and a University Council Representative.

That’s a newly 32 percent decrease from last year’s election.

The fall elections aim to fill the eight off-campus, two first year at-large and two senate vacancies from each of the living areas.  

Voter turnout wasn’t the only number that was low this year. Freedom Apartments and Liberty Terrace currently have vacant senate seats along with one off-campus position due to lack of interest.

The vacancies will be decided in a spring special election, according to Senate Chair Brandon Holdridge, who noted he would prefer to hold such elections before December.

Dutch and Colonial had the largest decrease in turnout. A total of 54 students voted on Dutch this year compared to 299 last year, an 82 percent decline.

Colonial saw a 63 percent decrease in voter turnout with just 66 students casting a ballot compared to 179 last year.

Holdridge voiced concerns over the lack of turnout on Friday afternoon, but ultimately attributed the issue to a lack of interest in politics and a dip in the candidate pool.

“I’ll do everything in my power to make the turnout and the candidate pool go up,” he said of the spring election.

Students who won seats were pleased in their victories, including senior Brian Polanco, a three-time SA senator-elect, who won his bid for University Council Representative. Polanco called the results “surreal,” saying that it would be the last student-election he would be able to win.

Abdoullah Goudiaby, a freshman, won his first senate seat for State Quad. Having participated in his high school student government, SA was an organization he sought to join early on. Though nervous about the election, he won his seat with 144 votes.  

SA is responsible for a $2.7 million budget which is funded by $110 student activity fee per semester.

The organization has come under fire recently for a perceived lack of transparency and questionable spending practices which includes $500 spent on Uber rides through the New Orleans French Quarter during Mardi Gras while leadership attended a diversity conference last semester.

This spring, students will have the opportunity to vote on whether to keep the now mandatory student-activity fee.

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