Quantity Conquers Quality: How Endorsements Impact SBP Elections

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Quantity Conquers Quality: How Endorsements Impact SBP Elections

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Every year, heralded by emails from friends, student shares, and announcements through homeroom, the student body president election begins. You go to the campaign pages and watch funny videos, laugh at memes, and, of course, scroll through a seemingly infinite list of endorsements. These endorsers range from alumni you have never heard of to your best friend. But, unlike the memes, the consequences of these endorsements are far from laughable. In fact, endorsements threaten the integrity of our elections.

There are three main ways that endorsements threaten our election. First off it locks in the student vote before the election happens.. Secondly, it is just another method of peer pressure. And, third, it turns the election into a popularity contest.

Before we can truly understand how serious of an affect endorsements have on the election, we need to understand how the endorsing process works. Sometime during the fall and winter semesters each year, a flurry of emails fly around Canvas. “Could you endorse me for SBP?”, “My really good friend is running for SBP and you should endorse her.” And, “No one has been more inspiring to my life. You should endorse him.” Slightly taken aback and overwhelmed you give a tentative, “sure”, and your name is added to the growing list of endorsers.

The big problem with this is that you don’t know what you are endorsing! As far as you know he could have no plan for what he wants to do when he is SBP. You also do not know who else is running for SBP. So when that time of the year rolls by again you find out that the candidate you are endorsing has no plan, or that maybe your best friend is also running. You are a person of your word, though, you endorsed that candidate and you have to stick with him. Your vote is effectively locked into place as soon as the tentative sure exits your mouth. Senior, Keslee Peterson, sums it up very well: “Endorsements force voters to commit to a candidate before they are educated voters and even know who everybody running is and what their platforms are.

“The question of who to vote for is reduced from which of the candidates best represents you to which candidate did everybody else vote for. In this way, the use of endorsements can damage the integrity of school elections.””

— Josh Christensen

To make things worse, peer pressure strikes. As a young freshman scrolling through the campaign pages I stumbled across the endorsements. “Who is Nathan Fales?” I asked. My older sister leaned over my shoulder. “Oh, he was SBP last year.” I was then filled with a sense of awe. I scrolled through the seemingly never ending list of endorsers. “This candidate must be amazing if they can get so many people to endorse them,” I thought to myself.

Then, the election turns into a competition to see who can get the most endorsements. What should be a valued vote for who will be the best leader for our school turns into a popularity contest.

“I believe that endorsements in Student Body elections are not a reflection of a person’s ability to lead. I believe that they change the dynamic of the elections to a contest of popularity,” said senior and student body vice president Jacob McGuire.

Senior, Josh Christensen, sums up this issue with endorsements quite eloquently: “The question of who to vote for is reduced from which of the candidates best represents you to which candidate did everybody else vote for. In this way, the use of endorsements can damage the integrity of school elections.”

To end this, I would like to extend a personal challenge. This election, instead of endorsing someone, wait and figure out who you want to be Student Body President, and then let the other students make their own choice. Keslee Peterson says: “We are a school of leaders learning how to think. Don’t tell people what to think.” If you already committed yourself to a candidate, talk to them and ask them to remove you as an endorser. To those candidates reading this, I dare you to run a campaign without endorsements. Please spread this article to others so that we can make our election reflect the true value of the voters and the candidates. 

After reading this article my thoughts on endorsmenets in the SBP elections are:

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