226 Voters Elect Senators-At-Large

Brad Hock

This Monday marked the 24-hour hour election period for the three open Senator-At-Large slots. Of the seven candidates, the three who were elected were sophomores Rob Sobelman, Grafton Connor and Ginger Northrop.

Only 484 votes were cast. There were 226 voters, who, on average, voted for only two candidates, even though each voter was allowed to vote for three.

“[SGA is] working on voting systems,” sophomore Class President and Elections Commissioner Christopher Nulty said. “Generally at Colgate, [voter turnout] is low.”

Nulty said the low voting turnout could be a result of the unusual time of year of the election or the hard time students had in locating the online voting machine on the Portal.

As the Elections Commissioner, Nulty, with fellow Elections Commissioner sophomore Ann Redpath, is responsible for making sure that elections run smoothly. For example, in the presidential elections earlier this year, Nulty collected receipts of those who used SGA money for campaigning and deducted voting percentage points from the candidates who exceeded their budget.

“[There can be] technical [as well as] ethical violations,” Nulty said.

Nulty said that the biggest changes he would make to elections are establishing more concrete regulations.

“The rules are a little shaky,” he said.

In addition, despite the navigational difficulties students had on the internet when voting, Nulty said that moving elections online has been an improvement, since it establishes more legitimacy because students will not be able to cast multiple votes, as the website is sensitive to Colgate identification numbers.

“[Candidates] drum up support on their own behalf,” Nulty said, explaining that candidates campaign independently and SGA plays a less vital role in publicity. The new Senators-At-Large will replace the three Senators-At-Large from last semester, who have either gone abroad, taken a leave of absence or become part of SGA’s Executive Board.

“[Senators-At-Large have] a constituent basis of the entire school [that is] responsible to vote on behalf of what the Colgate campus feels,” Nulty said.

Connor was formerly a class senator and said that his duties will alter as a Senator-At-Large because of his larger constituency. Representing a larger portion of students, Connor must decide what is best for the student body as a whole.

“[The position will be] more independent. I can’t ask 2,800 people [what their interests are],” Connor said.

The three new senators will soon find out the SGA committee to which they will be assigned. Connor hopes to stay in the Government Affairs Committee (GAC), where he worked when he was a class representative. His past work on this committee is what led him to run in this election. He was encouraged by his peers to become a Senator-At-Large because, as he notes, voting is “crucial” and “things need to get passed.”

All senators are involved in committees to keep senate meetings efficient because otherwise, as Nulty says, “nothing would get done.” Committees, such as the BAC, meet half an hour before the senate is in session to hone in on specific issues to be discussed before the senate.

“[My] number one challenge…is going to be passing the new constitution,” Connor said. As a member of the Constitutional Revision Committee (CRC), Connor said he is working with others to make “more distinctive branches [of the SGA so that] the executive branch will not control the legislative branch. It will work more like the U.S. constitution.”

This may seem like it does not affect the student body as a whole, but Nulty pointed to other decisions that must be brought before the senate, such as the Student Affairs Board’s Healthy Living initiative, whereby all property owned by the school will become smoke-free.

“The senate has more power than most students think,” Nulty said.