Voting not in line on line
By Jason Ménard
The University Students' Council's initial foray into election cyberspace has been hit and miss and they've done both in a big way.
The council's attempt to introduce on-line voting has not been met with the expected response. As of 4 p.m. yesterday only nine students had registered for the new balloting option.
"It's a little slow," chief returning officer James Deans said. "I think some of it is that people are unaware of it. People still don't vote at visual arts because it's a new building and they don't know there are polls there."
As a result, Deans said the council is extending the on-line voting registration period to Tuesday and will be sending out a mass email at the beginning of next week. The registration period opened Jan. 28 and was to have ended today.
Council president Dave Tompkins said he had hoped the novelty aspect of the venture would have prompted more students to register.
"I thought it would be a fad as a student it was something that appealed to me," he said. "I hope it's not an indication of voting in general."
Tompkins explained the venture didn't cost anything except time and that he hoped students would take the extended opportunity to get involved in the program.
"Ideally we'd love to put a voting booth in everybody's home but we can't afford it," he said. "But for me the thought of being able to check out every candidate's platform and The Gazette's coverage is very appealing.
"Maybe on-line voting's ahead of its time or maybe it will just never work."
Tompkins said the elections committee would be examining the issue of on-line voting after the Feb. 12-13 elections to see whether it is a venture they would recommend to next year's staff.
However, it appears students are taking advantage of the bigger venture offered for the elections the Vote '97 page on the USC's website. Whereas very few students have registered for on-line voting, almost 2,000 hits have been made on the election site.
"We're pretty excited that so many people are hitting the site," Deans said. "The website right now is better than I thought it would be. We're happy with what we've done."
Tompkins added the number of hits to the site has shown that this is a service students are taking advantage of. "Back when we only had 100 hits everyone joked we were doing it ourselves to bump up the numbers," he said. "But the number of hits we've had has shown this is a success."
This initial attempt to merge the elections and the Internet has been met with mixed reactions, but Tompkins said he feels this is not a one-shot deal and it will continue to evolve over the years.
"I think the candidates' web pages, statements and the links to The Gazette's elections articles will continue," he said. "But to say there will be voting on-line again may be a tad premature."