Election Results Overdue

Six months after SG presidential election, numbers not released

by Published: Nov 6, 2013

Six months after Erin Williams was announced as pres­i­dent of Ferris stu­dent gov­ern­ment, elec­tion results have still not been released.

“The num­bers and sta­tis­tics for the last pres­i­den­tial elec­tion are not pub­lic infor­ma­tion, as stu­dent gov­ern­ment has informed the Torch before,” Williams wrote in an email received at 9:41 a.m. on Oct 30.

Williams told the Torch she has never seen the results herself.

A legal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was sub­mit­ted by the Torch at 4 p.m. on Oct. 30 in an attempt to access the open records infor­ma­tion. As of press time, no infor­ma­tion had been provided.

FOIA requests are used to access pub­lic records. They can be uti­lized by any­one and com­monly used by journalists.

The FOIA was sent to Student Government President Erin Williams, Dean of Student Life Leroy Wright, interim Vice President of Student Affairs Don Flickinger and Vice President and General Council Miles Postema. Wright is the stu­dent gov­ern­ment advi­sor and Postema is the Ferris FOIA coordinator.

The Torch reporter cov­er­ing stu­dent gov­ern­ment requested the vote break­down fol­low­ing the online elec­tion that took place on OrgSync for a period of three days near the end of March.

Last spring, the Torch reported on April 3 Erin Williams won the elec­tion over Travis Hill. Two oth­ers received write-in votes, but num­bers were not given. Williams will grad­u­ate in December, and Andrew Kalinowski will take over the position.

When the Torch resumed pub­lish­ing in September, mul­ti­ple peo­ple were con­tacted in attempts to access these records.

Williams directed the Torch to recently resigned Internal Assessment Director of Student Government Jacob VanBoxel. VanBoxel directed the Torch to Student Activities Specialist Teresa Fogel who then directed the Torch back to Willams.

Reporting on elec­tion results is a com­mon prac­tice in newsrooms.

During city elec­tions, the results are given hourly upon request to the Pioneer, the Big Rapids Newspaper by the county clerk’s office, accord­ing to Pioneer reporter Lauren Fitch.

“[The county clerk’s office will] usu­ally have final results in the night of the elec­tion,” Fitch said. “They also try to update it online as they go so we can kind of get an idea of how close they are to hav­ing a final count. They’ll usu­ally fax or e-mail us a sheet of the num­ber of peo­ple that voted and how many total reg­is­tered vot­ers and how many said yes or no.”

Big Rapids long-time Mayor Mark Warba relayed the impor­tance of know­ing elec­tion results to the Torch.

“[Knowing elec­tion results] cer­tainly is part of the need­ing to know, want­ing to know, and the idea of trans­parency in elec­tions that you report what the vote tal­lies were for respec­tive can­di­dates,” Warba said.

Warba ran unop­posed for re-election on Tuesday.

“Even if there was oppo­si­tion I think peo­ple need to know what the out­comes were, what the votes were, and I can’t think of a rea­son why if I was elected or not I would say ‘don’t print the elec­tion results; that shouldn’t be known,’” Warba said. “I think you have to accept that if you’re going to run for an elected office. The pub­lic in gen­eral should have that infor­ma­tion avail­able to them. “

Student gov­ern­ment receives $1 per stu­dent each semes­ter for oper­at­ing costs. Student gov­ern­ment uses much of their bud­get for the Big Event.

Each semes­ter, the stu­dent gov­ern­ment finance divi­sion receives a $20 stu­dent activ­ity fee from the major­ity of enrolled stu­dents. This money can be allo­cated to reg­is­tered stu­dent organizations.

According to Ferris staff mem­ber Deanna Goldthwait, Student Affairs Operations Analyst, the fall 2013 total is $159,018.

  • Samuel

    To be honest…why write about this now? It’s November. The stu­dents have for­got­ten we HAD an elec­tion. Honestly, I would guess that only around 5–10% of the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion votes at all. And OrgSync is a ter­ri­ble sys­tem. It’s highly pos­si­ble the infor­ma­tion is just gone.

  • Lori

    The elec­tion is over now, so what? Just for­get get­ting the results and move onto other things going on cam­pus. You guys are being dis­hon­est to a RSO who put in so much hard work

    • Alex Wittman, Editor-in-chief


      If you’re inter­ested in the topic, I’d like to encour­age you to express your feel­ings in a let­ter to the edi­tor which would be pub­lished with your name. The Torch appre­ci­ates feed­back and would be inter­ested for you to elaborate.

      Regarding the impor­tance of the elec­tion results, it is clear that we have dif­fer­ing opin­ions. Perhaps I can shed some light on why the Torch has cho­sen to pur­sue this story.

      In the United States and many other places around the world, it is believed that every vote sym­bol­izes a voice. Voting is an oppor­tu­nity for the per­son exer­cis­ing that right to be heard, to hold elected offi­cials account­able for their deci­sions and to have a say in impor­tant issues that affect the com­mu­nity. Democracy is a prin­ci­ple this nation was founded on and con­tin­ues to value today.

      Without elec­tions results, which are tra­di­tion­ally read­ily avail­able for any­one to view and more often than not pub­li­cized, why even vote?

      Any gov­ern­ing agency that val­ues open­ness, trans­parency and, above all, democ­racy, will not only under­stand our desire to pub­lish the elec­tion results but also appre­ci­ate and respect it.

  • skeeter jones

    Whats the point in with­hold­ing the elec­tion infor­ma­tion? Why not be trans­par­ent with the stu­dent body? Since after all, they are elected to rep­re­sent us.

  • Guest

    eh. Someone prob­a­bly didn’t win fairly so they had to “hush hush” about it.