Student Elections Use Power of ‘No Vote’

January 13, 2006

We’ll soon inaugurate a new governor of Virginia, but many at Mary Baldwin are now focused on elections that will make a daily difference on campus. Monday, January 23 marks the beginning of three weeks of student elections.

“There are several reasons to spread elections over three weeks,” said Velma Carman Bryant ’01, director of student engagement. Bryant advises the Student Government Association Executive Committee and helps with student elections. “There are so many positions up for election that doing it all on one day would make a confusing ballot. This process simplifies matters. It also gives students who lose their bid for a position the opportunity to run for another one on a different slate.”

The Student Government Association Executive Committee is elected during the first week (president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer of SGA; Honor Council and Judicial Board chairs; Residence Hall Association chairs; and Baldwin Program Board chairwoman). The second slate, in week two, (class officers, BPB committee chairs, RHA officers, and the lead advocate) begins January 30. The final slate, which begins February 6 — the third week — will be for hall representatives for Honor Council and Judicial Board.

SGA president Tiffani JeffriesEach week follows the same format. On Monday, candidate petitions can be picked up at the Security Office and are due back by 5 p.m. Tuesday. Campaign-ing also begins at 5 p.m. Tuesday. A “Meet the Candidates” forum is held Wednesday evening (students give speeches). Voting occurs online Thursday from 7:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Winners are announced Thursday evening at 5 p.m.

Unlike local, state, and national elections, Mary Baldwin’s student elections include a unique option called the “no vote.” On each slate of elections, students are given the opportunity to “no vote” a candidate. If a student chooses to do this, she is demonstrating her lack of confidence in the candidate. Even a candidate running unopposed must receive the majority vote to win office, so having the opportunity to “no vote” ensures that a candidate will not be elected just because she is the only option. In a case that a candidate receives more “no votes” than positive votes, a new election will be held.

Bryant encourages students to take advantage of the “no vote.” “If students don’t vote, they aren’t participating. The ‘no vote’ is a way of letting your voice be heard. Use it,” she said.

Bryant has thought about the impact of adding the “no vote” to elections outside Mary Baldwin. “Although having ‘no votes’ in local and national elections would be a neat idea, what would happen if a president was ‘no voted?’ Would campaigns have to begin again?” she asked. “Mary Baldwin is prepared for ‘no votes’ — we hold a special election if needed — but is the state or the country ready for that?”

Computer terminal where online voting can take placeStudents just need to find a computer to vote online for Mary Baldwin’s 2006–07 officers, and SGA’s goal is to make the process as clear as possible so everyone will vote. Please direct questions about the elections process, running for an office, or voting to Bryant at x7393 or SGA President Tiffani Jeffries at x4017.