Elections supervisor urges student turnout at polls

sgElections supervisor Shaneeka Supal is hoping for a high voter turnout in this week’s Student Government elections despite the fact that only one party is running.

“I’m hoping for at least 1,000 to 1,500 voters, but you never really know,” Supal said. “Given the low amount of interest this year, I really have no idea what the numbers are going to look like.”

Supal said that she has gauged a low interest in elections among the student body this year and believes it is because only one party is running.

“I’ll talk to someone not associated with elections and say, Oh hey, so you know elections are going on, and they’ll say ‘What? Who’s running?’ They just don’t know.”

To boost voter turnout, Supal and her Election Rules Committee — made up of students Angelique Bonner, Brandon Morin and Wade Henry — have created more incentives to vote.

The first 1,000 students to vote will receive a “Get out of a parking ticket free” card to be used on campus. The committee will also be randomly selecting voters to receive $10 Eagle Dollar gift cards. These cards will be given out both to voters and to students who post on social media about SG elections using #soartothepolls.

The committee has designated Feb. 25 as “represent your organization day,” where students can wear attire from an RSO or group they are a part of and post it on social media for a chance to win Eagle dollars, and Feb. 26 will be “FGCU spirit day.”

Supal said it is important for students to vote and show support for their candidate, even though only one party is running.

“If you support the candidate, go out there and say you support the candidate holding that office and holding that position,” she said.

According to Supal, who was also the elections supervisor for the 2014-15 SG election, a low voter turnout would make it easier for students to sign a petition for a recall vote, because that petition only has to have as many signatures as half the number of voters.

“A recall would be a new election,” Supal said. “Chances are whoever is trying to get a petition more than likely already has someone in mind to run. Every year there’s potential for a recall, but with a low number of voters it increases because it’s less amount of work they have to do to get the numbers.”

The Election Rules Committee has been preparing for this election for the past year, and even made several changes to the election code. For example, a $3,000 cap has been put in place for the amount of money parties can spend on campaigning. Although a recall vote would mean more work for the committee, Supal would understand the recall if that’s what the student body wants.

“I would hate to see a recall election, but if people don’t want to vote because they don’t support that candidate, I can’t be mad at that,” Supal said. “But if your pure objection is that there’s only one party, then you’re taking the voice away from yourself. If you support that person, get out and vote.”

The polls will be open in the Cohen Center room 247 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Feb. 25 and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 26. Students will be able to vote for executive leaders as well as senators and are not required to fill out every section of the ballot. The election results will be announced Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Cohen Center fishbowl.