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Election System Transitions to Online Ballot

By Ben Gelderloos in Student News

Voting is currently live for student body elections on the Fairview website. This is the first election in which students have voted online outside of classes and holds hope for greater efficiency than in the past.

“We want to have the online component to have more people be able to vote and to have more participation in the voting process,” said Student Council advisor Ms. Kraemer.

In years past, the election for school wide leadership positions and student senate has taken place in a school wide assembly or on written ballots in class. Some students would not attend the spirit-themed assembly and ballots took up valuable class time and were hard to count.

“I think it’s more convenient,” said Web Team member Evan Su. “Some people might have found it bothersome to vote last year.”

Since the link on the fairviewhs.org homepage went live on Monday, the voting progress has continued smoothly and has encountered relatively little disturbance or malfunction.

“We encountered some problems with the Youtube videos I believe weren’t playing for certain people,” said Web Team member Jason Perrin. “It was a Google safe search type thing.”

The ballot itself includes many features to aid students in making an educated decision.

“Well, obviously we had to include their name, we needed to include some biography so people reading could figure out who they wanted to vote for, and then each candidate had a video as well that needed to be included,” Perrin said. “We just wanted to design something that essentially included all those and also makes it fairly easy for people to vote.”

Holding the election online presented its own technical challenges to overcome. Unlike a traditional check-the-box ballot, online elections are more susceptible to voter fraud and a failure for students to properly vote.

“We also had to take into account the people who would vote twice [and] the people who might vote for only one of the positions instead of all of them. So we needed to add some sort of validation to it to make sure that nothing fishy was going on,” Su said.

The new system has proven successful, with over 500 ballots submitted by Thursday night.

After this week’s executive elections are finished, other web elections for Student Senate and Student Council will be held when students return from spring break. While three weeks of campaigning and voting may be taxing on students, the web team believes the system will still work fine.

“If [students] were interested enough to go to an assembly last year, I think they’ll be interested enough to vote online,” said Perrin. “They might get kind of tired of it, but I feel like if there is only two or three it won’t be too bad.”

For future years, the elections should take place online again, but with an assembly to meet the candidates and gather the school together for participation in the process. Such a method was suggested for this year, but could not take place due to scheduling concerns.

“We wanted to have an assembly and online to do it both,” said Ms. Kraemer, “but because of the PARCC schedule the administration asked us if there was any way we could eliminate the assembly this year. Next year, hopefully, it will be both.”

This new process has the possibility for improving the student involvement in the government process and Ms. Kraemer is optimistic that it can better the school.

”We’re hoping that an online forum will encourage more participation so that it is a true democracy,” she said. “That’s the plan.”

Reports of problems with the online ballot can be submitted with the contact form on the website or email the web team at webteam@fairviewhs.org.

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