Freshman Tanner Beymer, one of the ASUI elections coordinators, introduced a three-point plan to improve elections at the University of Idaho at the ASUI Senate meeting Wednesday.
Beymer and co-elections coordinator Pilar Alfaro worked together to develop the proposal.
“(Alfaro) and I hashed out three goals that we want to accomplish,” Beymer said. “The first is to increase the number of qualified candidates who run for senate, the second is to have a higher voter turnout with an emphasis on off-campus students and the third goal is to incentivize voting.”
The first part of the three-point plan — to increase the number of qualified candidates — will be accomplished by extending the deadline for applications and using the current senators to make the position look appealing to potential candidates, Alfaro said.
“Having the senators we have now be a face for what elections are will get the word out,” Alfaro said. “Because people relate with that more and especially if they know that person, it can create a chain-like reaction.”
In the spring ASUI election, only 21.2 percent of undergraduates voted, according to Director of Student Involvement Colleen Quinn. The next step in Beymer and Alfaro’s plan is to increase that number dramatically.
“Elections are really the place where students can have their voice in who’s representing them,” Beymer said. “So a strong voter turnout is the best way to determine that the best candidates get the best positions, each and every time.”
They have also made two of the four open forums a requirement for senate candidates, hoping it will spur more student interest to see all of the candidates speak as opposed to whoever shows up.
Alfaro and Beymer plan to reach both of the first goals by using an approach that Beymer said has been empirically proven to be successful in nearly every arena it has been tried in — incentivizing.
“I’m an agricultural economics major, so I think very economically. And in economics I think everybody knows that everyone has to be incentivized to do something — there’s always an incentive attached to everything,” Beymer said. “That’s the tool Pilar and I plan to use.”
An incentive has already grabbed senators’ attention. Beymer is handing out multiple candidate packages to each of the senators with a senate code at the top-right corner of the packet to pass out to their respective living groups and other students on campus.
“Whoever has the most codes on the packets that come back in will receive a prize,” Beymer said. “So that is just one of the ways that we’re incentivizing the whole process.”
Alfaro said a similar approach would be used to get students to the polls in November but both coordinators would not comment on voting incentives until the plan is concrete. But they do have a budget to work from, so Beymer said students should “stay tuned because it’s going to get wild.”
Any undergraduate student interested in an ASUI leadership position are eligible to apply.
“If anyone has had any thought cross their mind on being a part of ASUI or being a senator, they should definitely jump on it,” Alfaro said. “You can get your foot in the door and probably wish that you were here right off the bat — I wish I was involved in (ASUI) my freshman year, I feel like I wasted that year not being involved in ASUI.”
There will be seven open senate seats, and applications are available now in the ASUI office on the third floor of the Idaho Commons or online on Orgsync. The deadline for senate applications is 5 p.m. Oct. 30.
Amber Emery can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org