The American River Current

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    Brad C.Apr 15, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    The comparison of student elections to Black Friday is interesting, because the political process has lessons to learn from advertising:

    RELEVANT PURCHASE INFORMATION IS IMMEDIATELY ACCESSIBLE. When you look at a product, you can immediately see the features of the product. In fact, when you go to Black Friday, you’ve almost certainly been inundated by advertising that has already informed your purchasing decision. By contrast, the eServices voting ballot page is an exceptionally uninformative design, more resembling a scantron than a meaningful ballot. You must go back and forth between the candidate statement page and the ballot–provided the statement page loads (it didn’t for me, twice). The statement page reads like Mitt Romney talking about lemonade, and is almost nonsensical. Related: STATISTICS MATTER. Businesses live and die by market trends. They use purchase and opinion data to predict how much to spend, where. In addition to being accessible, candidate statistics should also be available right in the voter form. Students should be able to compare and contrast their choices and look at historical trends, if applicable. It is trivial to provide a bulleted list of the candidates positions, a link to their social media, their political party affiliation, club memberships and endorsements, and a link to a plaintext search of Current articles on their name. This kind of information eliminates confusion and the shame of ignorance. Without this information, students are largely in the dark about who they are voting for, leading to poor quality candidates being elected simply because of name recognition.

    IMMEDIATE BENEFITS ARE POSITIVE. When you buy a product, you have a product. Voter incentives are a great parallel to this, and free food, class extra credit, book discounts, etc., are examples of how this could be implemented.

    AVAILABILITY IS IMPORTANT. Community colleges don’t have strict voting requirements, so it makes sense to try and improve voter accessibility by expanding voting dates, and providing regular election notification throughout the semester. Restricting voting to a small window excludes those without regular internet and campus access. Having an entire week to vote would make the process more accessible.

    If you want people to vote in your election, you must design the political process from the ground up to encourage participation. Voter apathy should be an indicator of a problem with the system, not a reason to start wagging fingers or shaming.

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Opinion: What we can all do to increase voter turnout