Columns / Discourse / Student Senate / September 16, 2009

The Senate Perspective: Fellow Knox students

Fellow Knox students,

As we trickle in from our respective homes and watch the summer come to a close, surely only one thing is on everybody’s mind—Senate elections. This year we’re making some elaborate and drastic changes in how district elections will be conducted. This is being done for two major reasons: first, turnouts are abysmal every year; and second, surveyknox is one of the worst voting systems in existence. For the first-years who haven’t had the privilege of using surveyknox, I send out a sincere apology for your missing out on the fun of trying to remember the password that you would have chosen this year when you attempt to vote as a senior.

For district elections this term we’re taking the radical approach of using paper ballots. Voting will be during lunch and dinner hours in the Seymour lobby and will be conducted by Senate Executive Board members. I, as well as President Heather Kopec, have discussed ways to keep the amount of paper used to a minimum as well as ensuring that votes are not tampered with. Tentatively, the safeguards are as follows:

-Ballots will be broken down into districts. By doing this, voting can be streamlined, ballots can be counted faster, and less paper waste will be created by limiting the candidates and ballot statements to their respective districts.

-A single list of students’ names, ID numbers, and the district that they live in will be held by the Exec Board members distributing the ballots. Students will have to provide their ID cards to the Exec Board member tabling, who will then mark each name / ID number off of the list. Students will also sign their ballots to ensure that they voted, not someone else.

-As voting will be held over the course of three days, a limited amount of ballots will be printed on the first day (proportionate to districts, ideally) according to the approximate turnouts of past elections (far less than half of the student body). This, too, will ensure that less paper is wasted. If the ballots for any given district begin to run low, more can be printed and be available for use during the next election period. If a district runs out of ballots on the last day of voting, the students looking to vote can ask for a ballot to be delivered to their campus box and deliver the filled-out ballot to the Senate office by midnight.

-All votes will be made in pen. If a student changes his/her mind on which candidate to vote for, the original ballot will be destroyed in front of said student. This will ensure that all ballots have the minimum amount of markings, protecting against vote tampering and making it easier to tally the votes.

-Vote counting will be conducted by the President and Vice President of Senate with the Dean of Students providing oversight and making sure that we do not alter any votes.

-An automatic recount would be triggered if an election were decided by 10 or fewer votes. Recounts may also be requested by any student after election results are posted. If vote tampering were suspected, signature verification would be conducted to check if the ballots were altered in any way.

With these safeguards in place, this election has the potential of being one of higher turnout and fully represented districts. If there are any comments, questions, concerns, or suggestions on how elections are being run this cycle, please email me at

Trevor J. Sorenson

Vice President of Student Senate

Trevor Sorenson

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