With Purdue’s student government elections just around the corner, students are left wondering who to vote for and how they can vote in a process described as “confusing” and full of “conflicting information”.
Brayden Johnson, a sophomore at the College of Health and Human Sciences, was appointed as chief electoral officer in late January by PSG’s cabinet.
Johnson said his main duties include appointing an electoral cabinet to help him carry out a “fair and efficient” electoral process.
The committee, he said, is made up of five people, a deputy, two marketing directors and two senators to liaise between the elections committee and the PSG board.
“(The senators) are going to be my intermediary between the PSG board of directors and my committee to make sure that everything goes well because the board of directors is going to file for us (before the start of the campaign)”, has he declared. mentioned.
“I have to interpret election rules and promote elections,” Johnson said. “And then host polling places, which could be online, but this year I’m doing online and in-person offices.”
Johnson acknowledged the mystique that PSG elections presented in previous elections and said he hoped to eliminate some of it with an outreach deposit before the candidates were announced.
Shannon Kang, a senior at the College of Liberal Arts and current president of PSG, said she believed online debate last year due to COVID-19 regulations contributed to lower student participation.
“There hasn’t been an in-person debate for a few years,” she said. “Having it in person this year will ensure an interactive live crowd.”
One of the changes Kang said he made to election regulations following his election was the addition of an anti-harassment policy. This year, applicants are required to abide by the terms of Purdue’s anti-harassment policy.
“This policy addresses harassment in all its forms, including harassment of individuals on the grounds of race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, genetic information , disability, veteran status, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression,” reads the university’s website.
Politics, Kang said, could help candidates navigate the election.
“Given the sheer number of applicants, these issues could arise,” she said.
This year, the ballot has six campaigns, compared to two in the 2020 and 2021 elections.
Another problem in the electoral process is the low turnout. In 2019, 10% of the student population voted, according to previous exhibitor reports.
In an effort to increase voter turnout, in addition to online voting, in-person polling stations will be open for the duration of voting, Johnson said.
“In order to generate a little more buzz around the election, we hope to hold in-person polling places in high-traffic areas of campus,” he said.
“So hopefully by WALC, food courts, maybe the Co Rec, just places that get a lot of regular foot traffic.”
Johnson said he hopes to increase voter turnout by a significant percentage.
“I hope to reach at least 10,000,” he said. “I was told it was not possible.
“But I think I could do it.”
Another point Johnson clarified is the amount of money candidates are allowed to spend. Candidates now have much stricter rules regarding how much they can raise, as well as how much they are allowed to raise.
Campaigns are required to submit a detailed financial report, including where the money came from and how much they raised, Johnson said. These reports will be made public to both the student body and other campaigns for up to one year after the election.
Applicants are not limited in how they fundraise, including Venmo or family donations, but are limited in the amount of money they can raise.
“So the presidential vice president tickets are limited to $3,500,” he said. “Senators are authorized to spend $500. And that levels the playing field a bit.”
Johnson also said campaigns or students who have a problem with a particular campaign’s finances are allowed to file a grievance, which will be handled by the elections committee.
The biggest change in the electoral process, according to Johnson, is the debate.
“We’re going to have every campaign up there, with the president and vice president answering team questions together,” he said. “And it’s going to be structured much like the real presidential debates where the moderator asks a question. The candidate has two minutes to answer, then the other teams have one minute to ask questions about their answer.
“We will draw (the questions) from PSG, the student body and student organizations. And then we’re also going to have a Google form in the debate where people can scan (and) submit a question.
Kang recalled her own election and the difference of the debates. Competing against only one other campaign, she said her debates were mostly “back and forth” between the two campaigns.
She said that with the new format, “all applicants will have a fair chance to express their interests in the student body.”
Kang said the diversity of the six campaigns represents a large portion of the student body.
“At the end of the day, the top candidate will win, and it will be thanks to the student body at Purdue.”
The proceedings are scheduled for 7 p.m. today at the Purdue Memorial Union Ballroom. Places are limited on a first come, first served basis.