SGA hopeful for a high voter turnout

By Mike Caputo

Lawrenceville SGA elections are rapidly approaching, and student government officials are hoping for a record-breaking voter turnout.

The highest turnout in Rider history was only two years ago, in 2005, when 992 students cast their votes for officials from SGA and other governing bodies on the Lawrenceville campus. In the 2006 election, the number dropped to 788 students.

In 2006, a majority of elections were uncontested, including the race for president won by Steve Klemchalk. It was also the first year that the elections took place exclusively in the Student Recreation Center. Past voting centers were located in Daly’s Dining Hall and Cranberry’s.

Although there was a sharp decrease in last year’s voter turnout, current Lawrenceville SGA Vice President Nick Barbati remains confident that students will show up at the polls at the Student Recreation Center on Thursday, April 5.

“I am confident that this is going to be a record-breaking election,” said Barbati. “We were able to get [about] 800 people to vote for mostly uncontested races [last year]. That says a lot for one race. It also says the location wasn’t a bad thing.”

In an anonymous, unsystematic survey of 170 students eligible to vote in the Lawrenceville SGA elections conducted by The Rider News, about 28 percent said they were very likely to vote in this year’s elections. Interestingly enough, when The Rider News took a similar unsystematic survey after the November midterm elections, about 30 percent of the 165 polled said they made it out to the voting centers to cast their votes.

On a national level, the November 2006 midterm elections turned out to be one of the largest in voter participation from people under 30 years old, according to Reuters. That number was 24 percent.

The other 72 percent surveyed in this week’s poll were somewhat likely, somewhat unlikely, or very unlikely to vote in April’s Lawrenceville elections (see results on page 10). A number of students who are uncertain of their presence in the voting booths on April 5 explained their reasoning.

Some survey participants admitted that they are not aware of where the voting actually takes place, while others complained of not knowing the issues or the candidates.

Students will have an opportunity to get more acquainted with the candidates, as campaigns officially start today, and the candidates will voice their opinions on topics pertaining to student life at next week’s debate, open to the Rider community. This year’s debate takes place on Tuesday, March 27 starting at 11:30 a.m. in Sweigart Auditorium.

Among this year’s candidate pool (see list to right), this year’s race for Lawrenceville SGA president pits three student leaders against each other: juniors Michele Domalewski, Mike Carlucci and Laura Vendetta.

Domalewski said the competition pushes the candidates harder toward achieving their goals.

“When it’s unopposed, it is kind of like an effortless win,” said Domalewski, currently the Lawrenceville SGA secretary and a member of the junior class council. “When you have competition, it kind of makes you work harder. For the person who does win, you kind of have more of an appreciation that you really do deserve it in a sense.”

According to Carlucci, students will benefit the most from the highly contested races.

“Having three candidates really allows students to hear and understand each candidate’s positions and aspirations,” said Carlucci, current president of Alpha Epsilon Pi and the club hockey team.

Vendetta elaborated on the importance of competition and how students will benefit.

“This [allows] the student body to choose and elect who they want in that position and who they want to represent them to the President, Board of Trustees, outside community and to the University as a whole,” said Vendetta, currently Lawrenceville SGA Community Outreach Chair and SEC Off-Campus Chair. “The entire election process will be very thrilling for all students.”

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