Online signatures will include an Onyen sign-in and password. Candidates need 1,250 signatures to be placed on the ballot, and each student can only sign one petition.
Former candidates said online signatures have the potential to change the way future candidates campaign but won’t replace paper petitions.
Before the online option was implemented, gathering the required number of signatures to get a candidate’s name on the ballot often became a “who has the largest campaign” contest, former Student Body President Hogan Medlin said in an email.
But last year, candidate Rick Ingram collected 2,945 signatures, 1,368 more than any other candidate, but still finished third in the general election. Ingram declined to comment for this article.
“I think that indicators of who wins races are tricky just from my own personal experience,” Student Body President Mary Cooper said.
Lee said even though the online petition will not replace the traditional clipboards, it could change campaigning strategies and increase the importance of social media.
“It’ll bring elections up-to-date with how people interact anyway,” he said.
Intended candidates for this year’s race will declare their candidacy at a mandatory meeting tonight.
Speaker of Student Congress Zach De La Rosa said the change likely won’t be a game-changer.
“I don’t think it substantially changes the race if everyone uses online signatures,” he said.
Medlin wrote that he only has one concern about collecting signatures online.
“With new methods must come new enforcements to uphold the integrity of the petition process,” he said.
Board of Elections Chairwoman Shruthi Sundaram said that in order to count signatures online, the candidate will have to send a link to their petition to the board for approval.
Cooper said candidates should not rely heavily on online signatures as the best way to campaign.
“What I found when I was campaigning was the importance of meeting people and talking to people,” Cooper said.
Former Student Body President Jasmin Jones wrote in an email that although the process might be easier, candidates should still campaign the old-fashioned way.
“The online version is a signature that you can never surely count on,” she wrote. “But when you have your clipboards with you and you ask this person to immediately sign it, you are guaranteed that signature.”
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