SGA to bring back in-person voting 

By Shaun Chornobroff

HANGING in Student Government Association (SGA) President Andrew Bernstein’s office is a copy of the front page of The Rider News from April 14, 2000. The top article of the paper is headlined, “Students break records at elections,” accompanied by a photo showing students voting in person. 

“The number they had here was crazy,” said Bernstein, pointing out that 678 students voted at that year’s SGA elections. 

After two years of underwhelming voter participation, Bernstein, a senior political science major, is building upon the strategy of the successful election displayed in his office, aiming to create a more interactive experience for this year’s elections that includes SGA giveaways and the option to vote in person. 

“To go back to a world in 2000, where we can hit those record numbers where we could hit those record numbers and people are having a fun time voting and getting to know their fellow candidates, it just creates a different culture. One that is more inclusive and welcoming,” said Bernstein. 

Bernstein said he feels his team would have done a “good job” if they could eclipse 600 votes; however, his goal is to reach as many people as possible. 

A total of 57 positions, on the executive, finance board, senate positions, as well as many others will be available for students to run for once applications open on March 1. Applications close at 1:59 p.m. on April 2 and voting will last from April 3-12; however, the SGA president says it’s in every candidate’s best interest to apply quickly. 

“To get your application done is to your advantage because then you can start campaigning, and you can start making sure that [students are] ready to get out and vote from April 3 to April 12,” said Bernstein. 

Trying to revamp the election process and setting a standard for growing engagement is one of the central focuses for what remains of Bernstein’s tenure as president. Since COVID-19, participation in SGA elections has dipped at Rider, according to Bernstein. 

“If we can set the precedent now, for all elections from here on out to be in person, [then] we should be aiming for the highest number of qualified candidates to submit their application, we should be aiming for the highest number of people to vote,” said Bernstein. “That’s something that can really snowball and really start to create a campus culture that values not only the organization, but the process of selecting its members more than it ever has.” 

Educating the community on the influence and importance SGA has on the Rider experience over the next month is a critical component of Bernstein’s mission to implore students to physically show up at the polls. 

As part of the effort to increase voter turnout, Bernstein set up an elections and recruitment committee dedicated to outreach. The seven person team led by Bernstein and Executive Vice President Riley Mozes has met once a week in preparation of the elections. 

“We’ve just been trying to increase initiatives and planning strategies for elections,” said Mozes, a senior health science major. Mozes said the committee is made up of three seniors, three juniors and a freshman. 

Bernstein said he has three days secured for in-person voting as of Feb. 25. The process will involve going into a voting booth where a computer will already have BroncNation loaded for students to log into. 

While voting in-person is certainly encouraged and welcomed by SGA, students still have the option of voting from anywhere they can access BroncNation. As candidates become eligible to campaign, Bernstein hopes that the return of in-person voting to the university is not a one time occurrence, but a ritual that the community looks forward to on an annual basis. 

“What we’re after is a campus event or tradition that people look forward to, that they acknowledge as important, that makes them feel like they have a part of the community and a say in the community,” said Bernstein. “I think this is hopefully what we’ll accomplish in the spring.” 

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