A story was recently told that went like this: A minister goes to the dictator after a national election and says, “I have excellent news, Mr. President! You won 98.6 percent of the vote in the election! Less than 2 percent of the people dissented! What more could you possibly want?” The dictator responds, “Their names.”
Many of us understand the importance of voting. And because we do, we go about establishing institutions to ensure that elections are safe, secure and fair. Thus, the role and importance of the Board of Elections cannot be underscored enough.
The BOE has had a rocky year. People have tried to manipulate the BOE, intimidate its members, and the Board itself has helped to compound some issues by making mistakes itself. But now with this upcoming spring election, the Board is refocusing and learning from its mistakes, as should we all.
This Board plans to make itself more accessible and transparent. We have just been given access to our new website and we thank the Secretary for the changes. We will be also be using more social media, from Facebook to Twitter, to better communicate with students and make everyone aware of our deliberations, decisions and policies.
This Board will also be launching an effort to better work with—- not against, not without or in spite of—- the Senate. Communication between these two bodies has not been great. It is our belief that if more questions and more communication occurred between these two bodies, many of the problems we have faced this past year would easily have been avoided. BOE members will be working to make communication and, more importantly, understanding with the Senate, easier.
This new dialogue will allow the Senate, the student body and the BOE to finally meet openly and candidly to discuss much-needed elections reforms. In addition to that, the Board has proposed and will soon get working on plans for a BOE-led town hall to discuss elections reform with members of Student Government and the larger student body.
Inclusion and transparency on this matter of reform is crucial as a large sample of views, and the happily heated exchange and clash of ideas, will yield better suggestions than those of a select few.
Here at AU, we are willing to go on Facebook, rant and sometimes viciously fight about how to make things better on campus. But students won’t cross the screen to open another tab to vote.
Frankly, we should all be tired of hearing that elections at AU don’t work. These elections don’t operate in a vacuum. We are supposed to make them work. We on the BOE have the responsibility of making sure elections are fair, to be referees and honest arbiters.
But all of SG and the student community have a role, too. We, the Board, are committed to working with everyone to get people out to vote and to improve, as much as possible, the elections process here at AU.
To conclude, a politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation. Hopefully, given the BOE’s new commitment, the support of the rest of SG, and everyone’s joint effort, we can all say that we can put aside petty, political short-term problems and struggles to gain power for long term principled and practical improvements. This is what the BOE hopes to accomplish, and this is what students should expect everyone in SG to accomplish.
So the remaining questions are simple: Can we work together to make things better? Are we to be politicians or statesmen?
The Board of Elections believes we can be better and do better. We hope you do too.
The Student Government Board of Elections
Chair, SPA 2013