The beginning of spring term marks a new round of elections for the Associated Students of Portland State University. Each year students vie for student government positions, which come with one-year terms that start and end on June 1.
“ASPSU is about getting people and resources together, and doing what’s best for students. That’s why we’re holding these elections,” said current student body Vice President Tia Gomez-Zeller. This election will fill four student government positions: senator, Student Fee Committee member, president and vice president.
This year’s election approach demonstrates differences from years past, when previous elections have traditionally turned out low numbers. Last year saw only 571 students turn out to vote.
Gomez-Zeller is confident the 2014 election will top the low turnout from last year, as ballots will be electronic and highly accessible. “Students will be able to vote from anywhere they have Internet access,” she said.
The Judicial Review Board met on Thursday to discuss the upcoming elections and the plan to promote voter turnout this year. “Not enough people understand us. More voters bring more legitimacy to the organization as a whole,” said Victoria Hutfilz, chief justice of the Judicial Review Board.
The board discussed ways to avoid voter fraud in the face of new electronic voting. This responsibility also falls on the candidates. According to the ASPSU candidate campaign packet, “A successful election cannot happen without candidates actively campaigning and motivating the student body to come out and vote.”
Students interested in running for a governing position face an April 25 deadline for campaign packets. Candidacy is open to all students who meet the 2.5 GPA minimum and six-credit load requirement. After applications are accepted, candidates attend orientation and begin assembling a campaign team.
Hutfilz expressed that a campaign team is not a requirement, but has proven to be the key to candidate success in the past.
The president and vice president candidates run as a team, much like U.S. presidential candidates. This team leads ASPSU and builds a team of students and staff to support the efforts of the organization. The elected senator position is a role that introduces students to the inner workings of ASPSU.
SFC members serve on an eight-member group that determines how PSU’s student organization budget will be divided. “SFC is the single most powerful student group at PSU,” Hutfilz said. “They handle PSU’s 15 million dollar [student fee] budget, to which each student pays $400 per term.”
Also up for grabs are several board-appointed positions for director- and staff-level positions. Gomez-Zeller has developed a new position entitled international student affairs director. This position will be in place to welcome PSU’s international student component.
Current student government members are distributing campaign packets Monday through Friday between Smith Memorial Student Union and Neuberger Hall. Orientation for accepted candidates begins April 28. The first week of May marks candidate debates, and voting will open mid-May at PSU’s International Night.