UBE to revamp elections system

New software program, polling sessions to be used to enhance voter participation

The University Board of Elections will be making big changes to its elections systems this year.

Starting in the spring, the board will use a new software program, “Big Pulse,” to help ease the election process.

The changes follow several problems in recent years with the original software used by the board to register candidates and tally votes, notably including last year’s delayed results.

After a trend of negative campaigning techniques on Grounds, UBE was established in 2003 to assist students in the on-Grounds elections process. The board oversees all University-wide student elections, sets the election calendar each semester and maintains the online voting system, UVAvote.com. The body organizes the elections for Student Council, the Honor Committee and the University Judiciary Committee.

The new system aims to be both cleaner and more intuitive for voters, said Krishna Korupolu, second-year College student and chair of the UBE.

“The biggest problem with the previous system was that it was very burdensome for candidates to go on and register,” Korupolu said. “This year we’ve shifted [the election process] to a new software making it easier for candidates to register and for people to vote. It’s been difficult in the past for students to know what’s going on or where to vote.”

The changes will organize the campaigning process as well as endorsements by official organizations. “We want the election to be as clean as possible,” Korupolu said.

Big Pulse will also allow the board to contact candidates to keep them up to date with deadlines regarding endorsements, registration and petitions.

Registration will be open from Feb. 3 to Feb. 9, and campaigning will begin Feb. 14.

To reduce ambiguity on campaign rules, each candidate must attend an information session hosted by the board. These sessions will relay rules regarding proper conduct and financial disclosure for all parties involved in the election, Korupolu said.

This year, the board will be able to monitor the progress of voters and see what percent of students have voted as well as which populations of students may need an incentive to vote.

Korupolu said he would like to see a similar increase in voter participation witnessed in 2013 when, in part because of the controversial informed retraction referendum proposed by the Honor Committee, voter turnout increased to 40.54 percent — an 8 percent increase from the previous year.

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