WSGA polls WU

While another year of elections for the Washburn Student Government Association has come to a close and the winners have been announced, accessibility to specific polling sites for students with disabilities is still an issue.

Shawn Bryant, a senior political science major, recently proposed an amendment to the WSGA’s constitution that would have reserved a spot specifically for students with disabilities. While that amendment was voted down, both sides agreed that the WSGA could do a better job reaching out to students with disabilities.

“I spoke with Taylor McGown, the WSGA president, after the vote on my amendment,” said Bryant. “We discussed setting up a specific polling site in student services for elections.”

WSGA did not set up a designated polling site in student services for last week’s elections due to concerns over resources and the need to separate candidates from voters.

“Normally we have more senators that are not running for re-election, but this year we only had two,” said McGown. “So we were limited on the number of people we had who could work at our usual polling sites and there was only one student manning two computers in those locations as it was.”

Students could vote online through from any computer that was connected to the Internet. Bryant is still concerned that there could be more done to reach students with disabilities.

“While I think it’s a good solution for faculty in those departments to encourage students to vote and provide them access, history shows that when people are provided a designated polling site, the turnout is higher,” said Bryant.

According to the WSGA constitution, updated in 2010, “a polling site is defined as any computer terminal on campus owned by Washburn University, or any location on Washburn University property, operated by the Washburn Student Government Association for the sole purpose of encouraging or gathering student votes.”

“We tried to reach as many students as we could,” said McGown. “But it just wasn’t possible this year for us to be everywhere we wanted to be and this was the best way we could reach out to as many students as possible.”

Computers are available to students throughout campus, both in public areas and designated computer labs, located in Morgan, Henderson, Stoffer, Garvey and Petro. The full list of computer labs is available on Washburn’s website under the Information Systems and Services tab.