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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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USG voting to go online this year

A new system implemented this year will allow students voting in the Undergraduate Student Government elections to choose candidates using a computer instead of a pencil.

This will be the first time USG elections will be held online, replacing the traditional paper ballots that were used previously.

Transforming the USG voting process to an electronic form has been a year-long effort that was spearheaded by Alex Wright, USG president, and Linda Dobb, executive vice president at the University.

Around 1,000 undergraduate students out of the approximate 16,000 undergrads that attend the University vote in the USG elections each year, which is a disappointing number, Dobb said.

“Paper voting is obsolete,” she said. “We want to make it easier for people to vote because we want people to participate.”

In the past, voting tables were placed throughout campus, but weather conditions often hindered voter turnout. Last year, members of USG set up tables exclusively in the Union, which excluded some students from voting, Wright said.

“People on campus might not go in the Union so we were excluding some people from voting,” he said.

Wright hopes the online voting system will be more beneficial than the former system by eliminating problems that existed in previous elections and increasing voter turnout.

“We can save money if we go online because we don’t have to print the ballots,” he said. “This way we have the ability to make sure every student has the opportunity to vote.”

Ballots will be accessible through a link on the University home page April 11 and 12. Wright hopes the added convenience of online voting will attract a large percentage of the University population to participate.

“It will be available for the full 48 hours,” he said. ” Students can’t vote at 2 o’clock in the morning in their pajamas if they want to.”

Students will be required to provide their user name and identification number in order to submit their vote, said Bill Knight, director of planning and institutional research in the Office of Institutional Research.

If a student tries to vote multiple times, all votes submitted under that student’s user name and identification number will be eliminated, Knight said.

USG Vice Presidential candidate Chelsea Lambdin is also concerned that there is a potential for students to cheat. Students user names and identification numbers, Lambdin said, are too easily accessible.

As Vice President of Chapter Operations for her sorority, Lambdin has access to numerous students’ private information. Students could vote in place of another student using their user names or identification numbers, Lambdin said.

“I would like to think that everyone is honest, but it’d be great to rule out any possibilities of cheating,” she said.

Knight said the security measures in place are efficient.

“It seems like it’d be a lot of steps to take to defraud the elections to get students user names and identification numbers,” he said.

And while concerns about the security of the elections are legit, Knight ensures students that the Office of Institutional Research maintains confidentiality surrounding all data that’s received.

“Our office operates under federal and state standards regarding confidentiality,” he said.

Lambdin realizes how important student government is as a result of the changes they have initiated at the University and in the community this year.

“USG elections are a big deal and it’s important to have fair elections,” she said.

Dobb understands the concerns students have with voting online, but she stresses that there are flaws within any system.

“Things can go wrong in any system,” she said. “As with anything that is online, there is always that risk.”

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