AP Government class to run annual student government elections

Elections performed through paper ballots to encourage “active campaigning”


Credit: Flickr user justgrimes

WHS students will see a new system of paper balloting run by the AP Government classes when they vote for student council officers later this week.

The AP Government and Politics class will run the Student Council officer elections. It also recently ran the class executive board elections. In previous years, school elections have always been run through Student Council itself, but this year, the class offered to administer the process.

AP Government and Politics teacher Eva Urban explained how her class got involved in the elections.

“We are a government class, so I mean this is our bread and butter; this is what we have been doing all year,” Urban said. “Also, [the students are] using this as a civic engagement project, so for them organizing the election and being involved this way in the school community is a way to demonstrate [that] they are good citizens.”

Urban explained that her class had run a similar election last year, and the Student Council election was appealing because they already understood the process of selecting new officers. As such, she proposed the idea to her class.

“I put it out there that we are going to do the election, [and] we are going to do it through paper balloting,” Urban said. “So right now, they are in the midst of not only creating voting booths and putting together ballots but also thinking [about] how can they compile time and how they can make this the fairest election possible.”

The AP Government and Politics class had been learning and practicing the skills necessary to run an election all year, so it seemed like a good opportunity to implement these abilities.

“Not only are we qualified to do it because we are a neutral body, [but] we have been studying government, politics and elections,” Urban said. “My students have been very thoughtful about the process [of] figuring out how paper balloting [can be] more accurate than electronic balloting and trying to encourage people to vote.”

The main change with the new elections will be the paper balloting, which will affect how candidates manage and form their campaigns.

“If you want to vote in the class elections, you actually have to get up out of your seat and go over to the table and vote, which I think makes the candidates a little bit more legitimate,” Urban said. “It also forces the candidates to do far more campaigning than what they have [done in the past], which [was] just giving a speech.”

Senior Kanming Xu, the current Vice President of Student Council, voiced his opinion on the changes and how it affected the Student Council as a group. Xu believes that Student Council running the elections was not necessary.

“We are trying to redefine Student Council and thought that running elections should not be a part of Student Council’s identity,” Xu said.

The AP Government and Politics class initially approached Student Council about the possibility of running the elections, which sparked the idea for the change of responsibility.

“We were going to run it [normally] this year, but AP Government came up to us, and [senior] Isabel Gitten, [a member of Student Council], led them to us and they volunteered to run it, so we let them,” Xu said.

The change the AP Government and Politics students are planning to make will have benefits for students interested in learning more about the election.

“I think that it will benefit people because [students] go to the advisers of their class and ask questions about the election, but [they] can’t really go to Student Council because they don’t really know who’s running it,” Xu said. “They usually go to their advisers, and if the advisers aren’t running it, which they will be now, they have no idea about the election.”

While giving up the role of election administrators limits some of Student Council’s power and responsibility, both Xu and the AP Government and Politics class are in agreement that the changes are for the better.

“We literally lose responsibility over the election, but at the same time people other than Student Council should be in charge of the election, and I think that’s good for the school,” Xu said.