Photocopied pages and shiny flyers littered campus and clung taped to trees, signaling the election season for the Undergraduate Assembly. Candidates made the traditional promises: "Because you deserve a louder voice," along with the unverifiable "Don Johnson wants you to vote for..." Anti-voting flyers were posted as well, proclaiming, "They wouldn't vote for you; Don't vote for them."
As traditional as the get-out-the vote campaign was, the balloting procedure took a step forward this year with the development of on-line voting by the Nominations and Elections Committee.
Paper-based voting was still available for brief periods of three days, but the on-line polling booths were operational 24 hours a day for six days.
The Pennsylvania Current wandered from Sansom Common to Locust Walk to ask students for their impressions of the new voting technique.
"I don't have to leave my room, and that's good," said Michele Walsh (C'03). "But it was complicated because I had problems remembering the [PennCard ID] password. A lot of people have forgotten theirs.
"But yeah, it has made it a bit easier. Now it's like registering for classes."
Walsh's table-mate, Robert Zurita, said his English wasn't very good when asked if he liked the new on-line system. He turned to Walsh for advice on the subject. "My conversation partner says 'yes,'" explained Zurita, a student in the English Language Programs, and therefore ineligible for voting.
Alex Schlacterman (C'99) didn't have any complaints about the new procedure. "It's the convenience," he said.
"Normally I might not vote because I wouldn't have the time. But this way you can do it between your homework and then get back to what you need to do."
Beth Tobais (right) and Johanna Goldstein
Photo by Candace diCarlo
Are you going to vote on-line?
"Yeah, it's easier,' said Beth Tobias (C'02) and Johanna Goldstein (C'02) in unison.
Did you use the on-line information about the candidates?
"No," Tobias said. "Just the newspaper and candidates. Yesterday that thing on the grass was informative. The NEC gave out food and stuff."
Goldstein said "I would have voted anyway, but it is definitely easier to do everything on-line."
Originally published on April 1, 1999