Students will have the opportunity to hit the polls in person this year.
The AMS is hoping to boost student participation in this year’s student elections by bringing in-person voting back to campus. Voting will take place on February 6 and 7, 2024.
“In person voting is one of those things that follows you outside of graduation. You’re going to be voting in your real life. We wanted to give students an authentic voting experience,” said Alysha Ahmad, AMS secretary of internal affairs, in an interview with The Journal.
The AMS will set-up a designated room on campus for in-person voting, where students will vote at a tablet station. Students will be required to show their Student ID card to an AMS staff member upon entry.
Since the 2009 fall referendum, all voting has been conducted by the AMS online. The current platform SimplyVoting was adopted in the 2014-15 academic year.
While the project is in its infancy, Ahmad is excited to see the return of in-person voting.
“The topic of in-person voting came up as a means of driving up that voter turnout and student engagement with AMS elections,” Ahmad said.
On top of increasing the number of students who vote in this election season, Ahmad hopes in-person voting will address accessibility issues.
“I think in-person voting can expand accessibility as not everyone has access to the internet at home meaning not everyone is able to vote at home. Not everyone has the technology to vote, and some students can’t afford Wi-Fi,” Ahmad said.
Online voting will still be an option for students who are unable or don’t want to vote in-person for AMS leadership.
As Ahmad prepares for the upcoming election season, it remains to be seen how the return of in-person voting will have an impact on voter turnout. Despite the option of in-person voting, Natalie Beechinor, ArtSci ’24, will be casting her ballot online.
“I would say that in-person voting would make no difference to me as a student. I am less likely to vote in-person rather than an online or mail-in ballot system,” Beechinor told The Journal.
The AMS is currently working on incentives to motivate students to cast their votes for undergraduate student government elections both in-person and online. Students who vote in the AMS election will have the chance to win an Apple Watch and receive complimentary coffee vouchers for Common Ground Coffeehouse, Ahmad said.
“We’re still in development of what an incentive for in person voting will look like. At the same time, we don’t want to make too much of a difference [between students who vote online versus in-person] as everyone should have the same benefits,” Ahmad said.
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