The Advance-Titan

OSA election system needs an update

Constance Bougie | The Advance-Titan

The current system the Oshkosh Student Association uses to declare the winner in their elections led to one slate being left with -22 votes after the election results were released on Mar. 28. That is all you need to know to understand how ridiculous the results from the election system can be.

Maria Berge and Jared Schadrie won the elected positions of president and vice president with a total of 188 votes, while candidates Brandon Colligan and Bryan Carter had a total of 294 votes, Aaron Wojciechowski and Hailey Lawrence had a total of 144 votes and Goodwill Obieze and Macy Veith had a total of 139 votes.

After the OSA Election Commission removed votes due to violations, Berge and Schadrie’s new total was 111, Colligan and Carter’s new total was 94, Wojciechowski and Lawrence’s new total was 29 and Obieze and Veith’s new total was a whopping -22, because getting -22 votes makes total sense.

The fact that Obieze and Veith were left with -22 votes after the penalty percentage was added is absurd. It should be impossible for a slate to be left with -1 vote, let alone -22.

Candidates can lose out on votes through the election system’s violation penalty percentage because of violations for things like campaigning outside of season or campaigning in the polling area on Election Day.

If the election system was based on the total number of votes rather than a system that goes off of penalty percentages, Colligan and Carter would have won.

According to Colligan, the system used in former elections was determined by multiplying the violation penalty percentage by the slates total vote. However, that system was changed. The new system multiplies the penalty percentage by all votes cast. Some candidates were not notified about the change in the election system.

Colligan said changing the penalty percentage increased penalties dramatically.

“We would have ultimately won under the old system, even with all penalties against us,” Colligan said. “This unannounced change during a closed meeting ultimately [led] to [a] drastic outcome that was not decided by the student body.”

The new system for this year caused a dramatic difference in the results. Because it multiplied the penalty percentage by the total number of votes for each team that ran, the election was completely flipped. Many slates had an extreme amount of votes taken away by violations percentages, which completely changed the outcome of the election.
If this penalty percentage can have such an impact on the results of an election, then the election system clearly needs to be reevaluated.

Although it can be understandable for the Election Commission to penalize candidates for things such as campaigning outside of season, it is unfair to punish the students who voted for these candidates by taking votes away from their preferred slates. OSA needs to remember the election is not just for the candidates, but for the student body as well.

This system of penalty percentages is both unnecessary and unfair. It is ridiculous to take votes away from a candidate just because they did not take down their posters fast enough and therefore can technically be said to be campaigning on election day. There are too many variables that need to be considered when it comes to violations.

Changing the results of an election by removing votes for violations is the same as telling the UWO student body their voices are irrelevant and their votes do not matter.

Although UWO has a population of 14,000 students, only 768 actually voted in the election. Because few students actually voted in the election, taking votes away is a slap in the face to those who did participate.

After a percentage of the total vote for violations was removed, the number of votes decreased to an even smaller amount. A fraction of the student body voiced their opinions through this election, but this change disrupted many of those students from letting their voices be heard.

There is no reason for OSA to hold an open election where any student can vote if the Election Commission is just going to take those votes away in the end so that they can elect the candidates they want. The election is supposed to be a campus-wide election, but the Election Commission has proved it is clearly not.

By doing this, the Election Commission is going against the standards of democracy. Democracy stands on the fact that people, or students, can voice their opinion on who they want their leader or leaders to be, and not have their voices be silenced.

“The Oshkosh Student Association is the student government that represents all students regarding issues and policies relating to academic and non-academic scores,” the OSA website said. “OSA is instrumental in voicing the opinions of the student body.”

OSA is supposed to be for students’ rights. If these rights are in jeopardy, students need to stand up for them and demand a system that accurately represents the student voice.

The OSA election system needs to be changed. OSA says students have a voice in these campaigns and elections, yet they take away students’ voices by taking away their votes for their candidates. By taking away the voice of the student body, the outcome of the election is completely changed.

Students need to contact their OSA senators and demand that something be done about the election system. It is unfair and unjust not only to the candidates, but also to the voters.

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Independent Student Newspaper of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
OSA election system needs an update