The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 28th

Interest Low for Congress

Interest Low for Congress

All two of them.

It was one of the many results in Tuesday's Student Congress elections that reflected the low student interest in the congressional races.

Despite this year's record election turnout, serious participation in congressional elections was still so low that jokers were able to vote UNC sports star Julius Peppers into office five times.

"It was kind of disappointing," said Board of Elections Chairman Jeremy Tuchmayer of this year's slate of congressional candidates. "We were hoping for more interest. But it isn't always a fun job."

Eleven districts were won unanimously.

Tied races, such as the one that occurred in District 3 with all four candidates snagging one vote for the single congressional seat, will be decided in next Tuesday's runoff election.

No votes were cast for the two empty congressional seats in District 9, and those empty seats will be filled in a special election for which the date has not been decided.

Gregory Wahl, chairman of the current session's Student Affairs Committee, said he believes the lack of interest is because membership requires hard, largely unpublicized work.

He said only five of this session's members are expected to return, and last year only three members came back for another year of office.

The large number of new members also will make elections for Congress speaker and committee chairmen very unpredictable, Wahl said.

"It's based a lot on first impression," he said. "But the returning members are the only ones likely to win."

Wahl and Mark Townsend, chairman of this session's Finance Committee, are the only two declared candidates for speaker.

The next session will vote on a new speaker during its opening session in April.

Wahl also noted that graduate students are particularly hard hit by the lack of interest.

Although 12 of Congress' 37 seats go to graduate students, Wahl said graduate students are too busy and aren't affected enough by Congress's actions to want to participate.

"A lot of the student groups on the graduate level believe they got shafted," he said. "When they ask for $2,000 and get nothing because they don't have any representatives, it's understandable."

But Wahl remains optimistic that Tuesday's election eccentricities will be dealt with more efficiently than the U.S. presidential elections were in November.

"It won't take as long as Florida, that's for sure."

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