A week after the presidential elections, students might have noticed ballot boxes and polling stations around the UAA Campus.
Unbeknownst to many, four students were running for USUAA Student Government positions.
“There were two senators running. and there were two students for Concert Board,” said USUAA president Karl Wing. “It wasn’t contested, so if you voted for any of those individuals, they’re in.”
There were no press releases for the election, and the only flyer or advertisement was a brief bio for two of the candidates. Their desired positions were not mentioned.
“The Election Board has always been charged with that task of submitting things with The Northern Light,” said Wing. “Usually there is a showcase. There’s open forums or live debates, but this year Election Board was not as organized as we hoped they would be.”
Wing said the Election Board, which is usually comprised of five students, is currently only staffed with three members.
“It’s pretty much a brand new board,” said Wing. “By the time they knew what they were doing, it was too late to get advanced notice out.”
According to Wing all candidates were uncontested, with six open seats for the Senate and two for the Concert Board. The two Senate candidates were Ryan Cassidy and incumbent Ashley Hice. Kyle Yan (who is currently a Club Council representative) was on the ballot for the Concert Board. Wing did not know the name of the other candidate.
Student Union manager Scott Karnitz joined the Election Board two weeks before the student elections. He did not know the name of the second Concert Board candidate either.
“I just briefly saw the names on the ballot,” Karnitz said. “I don’t even know where to find out who it was.” Two of the candidates’ names are not listed on the USUAA Website.
Karnitz said the reason there was no real advertising of the elections this semester was partly due to the timing.
“We were so close to the general elections that we didn’t want to confuse anyone,” Karnitz said. “The general elections were really important this year. If we had put up information saying ‘Elections on November 11 and 12,’ then people would have gotten the impression that that the [presidential] elections were on the eleventh and twelfth, and we didn’t want to put that idea out at all.”
Karnitz said the Election Board decided to wait until after the general elections to advertise the USUAA elections, which left them only five days to do any promotions.
USUAA elections are held during the second half of every semester. Karnitz said he doesn’t think he will be working on the Election Board next semester, which means there will be at least three seats to fill in January.
“This semester it seemed kind of pointless,” Karnitz said. “All the seats were open – mostly open, and the people running were unopposed. Next semester though, I don’t think there will be any open seats. There will probably be more people running than there are seats, which will make it pretty interesting. I don’t think that’s happened in a while.”
According to Senator Ashley Hice, who is also the sitting Chair of Finance, $5,600 is allocated to USUAA elections. It covers the expenses of two elections per year.
“We didn’t even come close to spending the $2,800 for this election,” said Hice. The main expense was the ballots. The ballot boxes and polling stations were donated by the Anchorage Department of Elections.
With expectations of a high voter turnout, the money left over from last week’s elections might be appropriated to next semester’s elections. The president and most of the Senate seats will be on the ballot.
Two more Senate seats became available last week when senators Ty Spaulding and Cameron Barrows had to step down.