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Unopposed USG election could slow voting

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The first unopposed presidential election in almost 50 years within the Ohio State Undergraduate Student Government has brought mixed views from students.
Unless a write-in candidate wins, USG President Taylor Stepp will become a two-term president, which hasn’t happened in about 10 years.
Some students are cautious of the unopposed election.
“A little friendly competition never really hurt anything,” said Kathryn Roslovic, a third-year in special education. “A little bit of competition always makes it a little better and I think that if he is running unopposed, maybe some of the issues that a different party could bring about probably aren’t going to be thought about.”
Paul Beck, a professor in the Department of Political Science, said in an email to The Lantern that “competition is essential for democracy in general.”
The lack of competition, Stepp said, gives more opportunities for “outreach time” to talk to student organizations. He said his campaign plans on talking to more than 220 organizations over the next two weeks.
“There’s not going to be divisiveness you typically see in USG elections, like candidates bickering, or anything that could typically happen in an election – not just specifically USG elections but any kind of election,” Stepp said. “So I think we have a unique opportunity to have a fantastic outreach time, and that’s why I’m excited.”
However, Scott Devol, a third-year in business, said he can see both sides of the debate over this rare situation.
“I think it’s always good to have competition to kind of push somebody else, but at the same time, if he’s running unopposed, then maybe people are assuming he’s doing a good job,” Devol said.
Given the rarity of the unopposed election, Devol said he doesn’t think this trend will continue.
“I think in the future you’ll have multiple candidates and this year might just be an anomaly,” Devol said. “For whatever reason, there’s just one person running, so I don’t think it’s going to continually happen.”
Other students feel the lack of competition in the election could cause potential problems.
Campaigning began Sunday evening, but Stepp said the unopposed election does not change his mindset as far as how to approach the campaign.
“We’re still going to be out there,” Stepp said.
Stepp is running with vice presidential candidate Josh Ahart, a third-year in public affairs who has served in the USG senate.
When Stepp ran against three other candidates for president in the 2012 USG election, turnout was at its highest since 1975 with 8,279 ballots cast. But with no other candidates on the ballot, some have questioned if students will feel motivated to vote.
However, Katelyn Schockman, a second-year in chemistry, said the other positions in USG are important as well.
“There’s still a lot of other positions to vote for and last year I voted and they make a pretty big deal about it, so yeah, I’ll probably still vote,” Schockman said.

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