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Voting is pointless, especially at FAU

Chris Persaud

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Almost everyone running for student government office next week will win. One vote won’t make a difference.

The election on Sept. 13 and 14 is for members of the campus House of Representatives and Student Senate. Each campus has a House that votes on legislation affecting that campus, while Senate legislation affects all campuses.

Altogether, they help decide how over $8.4 million of our money is spent every year.

But no matter what you do and no matter who you vote for, nearly all candidates will win a seat.

In SG legislative elections, candidates with the least amount of votes don’t win a position.

46 Boca House of Representatives seats are up for grabs. There will be 54 candidates, according to the SG elections chair

It’s similar with other Houses. Jupiter’s has 7 seats and 11 candidates. Treasure Coast’s has 6 seats and 8 candidates.

SG doesn’t bear all the blame for this. While FAU tends to have a small number of SG candidates, the pointlessness of voting is common in all democracies.

Your vote only decides an election if it’s a tie. Ties have a 50% chance of happening with two candidates and two voters (excluding yourself, the tie-breaker). The chance of a tie decreases as more voters and candidates are added.

When a few thousand voters are added, the chance of a tie happening goes below 1 percent.

Violent Democracy

One counterargument is that even though there is a small chance of breaking a tie there is still a chance. That’s true, but even so, democracy itself is a system where a few people spend everyone’s money without everyone’s consent.

Even if you don’t like any candidate, you have to pay their salary and anything else they want to spend your money on.

In case you’re wondering, you give SG $11.96 per credit hour each semester in Activity and Services fees. So, if you’re taking a full-time course load of 12 credits (usually 4 classes), you give $143.52 to SG.

At most, 6,748 Boca students out of an eligible 21,351 cast a ballot last fall. That was about 1 in every 3 Boca students.

The other 2 didn’t explicitly consent to their A&S money being spent on things like the Student Body President’s tuition ($4,938), SG’s reserved parking spots ($3,415), the Greek Life Office ($175,844)and the University Press ($81,178). Those numbers come from the 2011-12 A&S budget, which SG decides on every spring.

Even though some students didn’t vote, their money still went to that stuff whether they liked it or not

This is how democracy always works. Politicians take everyone’s money, with the help of the voting majority — a small fraction of people.

ADMINISTRATION > SG

Finally, even if everyone consented to SG doing what they do with A&S money, administration has the final say. All House and Senate legislation must be approved by the Vice President of Student Affairs. The VPSA is an unelected administrator, and SG is a department of Student Affairs.

If the VPSA vetoes legislation, SG can’t override that veto. No SG statute gives them the power to override the VPSA’s veto.

Student Body President Ayden Maher’s opinion on that is, “I think SG should be autonomous, but SG should be held in check. That way, no corrupt leader misallocates student money. [VPSA Charles] Brown doesn’t interfere that much. He’s made that quite clear.”

Boca House Speaker Boris Bastidas said, “It’s like we’re given this funding and authority, but we don’t have it … Like any SG official, I wish it was different, but it’s a waste of time to try to fight them.”

Well, the VPSA recently vetoed several bills that would’ve put a few interesting questions on the fall ballot, like whether or not parking fines should be lowered. So, thanks to the VPSA, you don’t even get to pointlessly vote on that.

It’s arguable that SG statutes 407.313 and 458.312 allow SG’s president and campus governors (respectively) to make legislation official without the VPSA’s approval. However, no known SG official has tried this.

You can cast your vote next week if you like, but remember this: It’ll have almost no effect on the outcome.

Go to fau.edu/sg to learn more about SG’s budget and their rules. On the left side, click either “Constitution & Statutes” or “SG Accounting & Budget Office.” Email the UP if you’ve got questions about their rules or budget, and we’ll look into them for you.

4 Comments

4 Responses to “Voting is pointless, especially at FAU”

  1. Lexi on September 7th, 2011 1:02 pm

    Every person’s vote does count. Also, everyone has a say in how money is spent. They just have to come to the meetings and put in their two-sense. You have no place to complain if you aren’t trying to do something to change it.

  2. James on September 8th, 2011 2:57 am
  3. Here comes the Fall 2011 election « OwlWatch on September 12th, 2011 11:32 pm

    […] can vote in SG’s legislative elections. If you’ve read the latest UP, you’ll know my opinion on voting. Well, looking at tomorrow’s election, it’s safe to say almost everyone […]

  4. SG’s rules and FAU’s rules « OwlWatch on September 24th, 2011 3:08 pm

    […] to think of it, I did point out an apparent SG-FAU contradiction in an opinion piece a few weeks ago. Back then, I […]

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