USG Sees Increased Turnout for Spring Election


Published: May 1, 2008

When the votes were counted for the United Student Government (USG) elections on April 8, the big winner seemed to be USG itself. After a week of voting, the tallies showed a count of 340 votes: a 30 percent student turnout. The high turnout, while still below the average of 50 percent turnout for fall elections, seems to indicate big things for USG’s future.

The high voter turnout was no coincidence. According to Keith Eldredge, dean of students at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC), the increase can be attributed to a greater push to improve voter interest. “I think the current USG Executive Board was very intentional in working to increase the number of students who voted,”  Eldredge stated.

The push could be felt in the days and weeks leading up to the elections, as  posters flooded the public spaces of McMahon and Lowenstein.  According to many students, including Jimmy Sheridan, FCLC ’11, the increase in campaigning, coupled with a few competitive races, produced greater interest in the elections.  Sheridan attributed the heavy campaigning to increasing his desire to vote. “I was genuinely interested in the sophomore senator race.  Between Facebook messages and flyers throughout the school, I couldn’t ignore it,” he said.

The elected sophomore senators—Rucha Desai, Brandi D’Esposito and Gabriella Varobey—contributed to a nearly full senate. The larger size of the senate is another milestone accomplishment by the spring election. “The more people we have, the more work we can do to actually be influential,” D’Esposito enthused. “With so many of us, we can do so much for Fordham.”

Dorothy Wenzel, USG advisor and director of Student Leadership and Community Development, said, “USG set a goal to increase the percentage of students participating in elections. They were able to increase the percentage compared to the last couple of years.” Wenzel cited “competitive elections for vice president and sophomore senators, better advertising about the elections and more campaigning by candidates,” as key contributors to the high turnout.

The race for vice president did indeed fuel a high turnout, due to heavy campaigning by Sarah Devine, FCLC ’09 (who went on to win the election) and Alex Rabinovich, also FCLC ’09. Rabinovich, who actively campaigned using flyers and word-of-mouth, attributed the high turnout to “amazing candidates and very successful advertisement of the election.” Rabinovich stated, “I noticed probably the most effort and student interest in USG elections than I ever have in my Fordham career.”

Eldredge also cited the contributions of USG President Dave de la Fuente, FCLC ’10, as one of the main causes of the high turnout. “During one of our meetings, I challenged the USG senators to work towards achieving 40 percent voter turnout. We reached 30 percent, which is a tremendous improvement,” said de la Fuente.

He also pinpointed other strategies that he and other members of USG used to increase voter turnout. “The main key to voter turnout is presence. We did a great job publicizing the election, and it showed,” he said. The increase can also be attributed to “the hard campaigning that we saw from the candidates,” de la Fuente stated.

So what does the increase mean for the future of student government?  To de la Fuente, the cycle of getting out the vote never ends. “Next year, my goal is 50 percent turnout,” he said. Eldredge said that he holds a similar optimism for an ongoing increase in voter turnout. “I hope that the increased number of voters signals that more students want to actively participate in helping shape the community at Lincoln Center and they will continue to support the United Student Government and other clubs and organizations in their efforts next year.”