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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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SGA kicks off ‘Gig the Vote’

The Election Commission for Texas A&M’s Student Government Association has begun its “Gig The Vote” campaign to increase voter awareness and turnout in campus elections.
The campaign seeks to end a downward trend in SGA election turnout through increased candidate-student interactions and an increased social media presence. SGA leaders hope “Gig the Vote” will help raise voter turnout to more than 30 percent of Texas A&M’s student population — a task that requires at least 4,000 more votes than last year’s turnout.
“It’s very much about encouraging people to start voting, but on the same hand we don’t just want students blindly participating,” said Hannah Wimberly, SGA public relations vice president and psychology junior. “We want them to know why they’re voting, who they’re voting for and what issues really matter.”
Election commissioner and business sophomore Emma Douglas said this election season is important because it will fill student senator and yell leader positions, as well as next year’s student body president.
“This election is setting the atmosphere for the 2015-2016 SGA,” Douglas said. “This election season especially we want everyone to be educated and aware of what’s going on.”
Douglas said SGA has experienced a voter participation decline over the past few years. 2012 voter turnout was more than 15,000 participants, but by last year’s election it had dropped to about 11,000. Douglas said while 2012’s numbers might be due to the higher candidate numbers — there were six SBP candidates instead of the two to three candidates since — the participation drop nonetheless requires a rethinking of the way SGA generates voter interest.
Jeff Claybrook, communication executive vice president and political science senior, said SGA hopes to have 15,000 to 20,000 students vote in this election, or approximately 30 percent of the student body population.
Wimberly said students don’t realize the policy influence that elected members of SGA have.
“Whenever there’s a search team that needs to come up for a dean, president or vice president, administration automatically turns to SGA because they have been elected by the students and are representative of the student voice,” Wimberly said.
Douglas said there are plenty of opportunities for students to become informed for election season. A candidate meet-and-greet is planned for Feb. 15 in the MSC, and SGA hopes to interact with students through Facebook, Twitter and social media. Douglas also said a debate between student body president candidates will be held for students to better understand the candidates’ positions.

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