The polls for student elections opened today at 10:00am and will close at 4:00pm next Thursday, February 26. With so much time to vote, and so many candidates from which to choose, here is how you shouldn’t vote this election season.
1. Don’t vote for your friends.
Let’s be real, despite what they tell you at orientation about the grandeur of self-government, student elections tend to devolve into a popularity contest. There are few problems in college that students can take seriously, and even fewer that we can effect through student government. Throwing around the words “engagement,” “leadership,” and “Honor” in college has replaced “putting soda in the vending machines” in high school as a campaign platform.
With that said, if you really want self-government to mean something at UVa, don’t vote for your friends just because they are your friends. Sure, they made you feel important by inviting you to a Facebook event, posting on your wall, and sending you messages with an unnecessary number of exclamation points!!!! In random!! Places!!! Your friends are great people, but if you know that they are more concerned about building up stellar resumes than breaking down UVa’s problems, don’t give them a vote–but tell them you did to keep those Facebook notifications and exclamation points rolling. (!!!!).
2. Don’t vote for strangers.
The uvavote.com system pressures you into checking as many boxes as possible–but be aware that you do not have to check a single box. In fact, if you have checked the maximum number of boxes on a given ballot, then either you are an exceptionally well-informed student, or you are doing something wrong.
Once again, voting does not have to be a popularity contest. There is no shame in only checking one box on the entire list. Your mostly blank ballot would not be your fault–it would be the fault of the ultra-ambitious resume-padding candidates who decided to run this year. If you cannot recognize a single name beyond a Facebook post or a flyer around Grounds, then skip the entry and move on. You have better things to do than decide who gets to brag about being an Honor representative to Merrill Lynch executives this summer.
3. Don’t take it seriously.
If your social status at UVa depends on claiming to have voted for a friend or a stranger, then checking a ballot box this weekend is the least of your worries. Ultimately, regardless of who wins, the world will be rotating just fine tomorrow. The magnetic polls will not flip, a solar flare will not burn down a swath of Central Asia, and a demonic Nicholas Cage will not be riding around on a flaming motorcycle.
That is not to say that you should check off boxes at random, but rather that you should ignore the noise, make an honest selection, and wait for your ears to stop ringing come Thursday evening. There are important issues on which to vote this year, including the three Honor referenda and an intriguing Student Council presidential race. Take your decision seriously–but not its immediate social importance.