At the top of sophomore Hutchinson William’s campaign platform has been the seemingly simple and deceptively complex goal of building school unity. Whether or not this is an attainable goal remains to be seen, but after Tuesday’s election, one thing is for sure: 819 Fairfield students are already behind him.

With 1,170 students, or about a third of all full-time undergraduates, participating in the 2006 FUSA presidential election, voter turnout soared after last year’s record-low turnout of only 892 students, or about 25 percent of the student population.

“The fact that more students came out means more people care,” Williams said. “I gave a speech in the cafeteria yesterday saying if you don’t vote, don’t complain.”

The freshman class had the highest number of voters with 458, while 388 sophomores and 243 juniors voted.

“The main reason I vote is because when I complain I like to justify it,” said Gary Pelletier ’09.

As is typically the case, the senior class had the lowest number of voters; only 81, or approximately 10 percent of the class, participated. Seniors can be a difficult for candidates to target because many are not concerned with who leads the student body after they have graduated.

“I didn’t vote because it doesn’t really matter to me who wins,” said Sarah Leonard ’06. “I won’t be around next year to see the results of my vote.”

Many seniors live at the beach and may not make it to campus to vote for various reasons, including having internships. Some juniors may not be on campus to vote because they are studying abroad, although these students do have the option of submitting an absentee ballot. This year, seven juniors voted by absentee ballot.

Traditionally, candidates have spread the word about upcoming elections by posting flyers in dorms and hanging signs. One new advertising venue available to candidates this year was Fairfield’s green space; for the first time, presidential hopefuls were permitted to place lawn signs around campus.

In past years, FUSA members have expressed hopes to increase voter turnout by giving students the option of voting via StagWeb. While there are currently no plans to implement this method, it is an idea that has attracted the interest of many students.

“I feel it would increase voter turnout dramatically,” said Chris Gradel ’06, chief justice of the Student Court. “Absolutely.”

Current FUSA President Jess DiBuono ’06, who won the election last year in spite of the low turnout, agreed that online voting might further increase the number of voters.

However, she pointed out that there might be uncontrollable factors involved that could potentially skew the results. For example, candidates or their supporters might go door-to-door on election day and pressure students to log onto their computers right then and vote for the favored candidate.

According to DiBuono, unless voters actually vote in the campus center in a controlled environment, there is no way to be sure that the results are fair.

“It [online voting] could be an unfair situation,” she said.

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