Credit: Leslie Krivo-Kaufman / The Daily Pennsylvanian

As Americans across the country tune in closely to the 2012 presidential election, some Penn freshmen are gearing up for an election of their own.

This morning marked the start of monetary campaigning for fall freshman Undergraduate Assembly and Class Board elections. While student groups have been able to endorse candidates since Tuesday, today marks the first official day that students can begin to spend money on their campaign.

Among the 61 freshmen running for positions within student government, 23 students are competing for eight available spots on the UA while 11 are vying for the position of Class Board president.

Eight students are running for positions on both the UA and Class Board.

The overall number of freshmen running this year increased from 54 total candidates last year.

Nominations and Elections Committee Vice Chair of Elections and College junior Frank Colleluori is pleased with the rise in participation.

“Candidates have been asking good questions and seem really engaged with the process,” he said. “I think the fact that we have 11 people running for [Class Board] president shows an uptick and hopefully more involvement in years to come.”

There are also three open UA representative positions for upperclassmen — one for the Wharton School and two for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. The NEC will run a special election concurrently with the freshman election to fill these positions.

At a mandatory meeting on Tuesday night, the NEC advised candidates that a clear position and approach to achieving goals are two important aspects of campaigning. It also stressed the importance of the Midnight Breakfast, which will be held in Houston Hall Sunday night and will give candidates the chance to interact with student voters.

“It’s a cool opportunity because they can meet their constituents, talk with them one on one and establish a rapport with them,” Colleluori said. “The best way to get people to vote for you is to meet with them one on one.”

Online voting opens officially at 12:01 a.m. Monday and closes at 5 p.m Friday. If no election violations are filed, results will be announced later Friday night.

NEC Chair and Engineering and Wharton senior Alec Miller has been impressed by the strength of the candidates so far.

“People have been bouncing great ideas off of us already,” he said. “They are a passionate, great bunch.”

UA President and College junior Dan Bernick agreed.

“The UA is thrilled with the quality of candidates this year and students should get informed and vote for candidates they think will do the best job,” Bernick said in an email. “We commend the candidates for putting themselves out there, and wish them luck.”

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Frank Colleluori said there has been an “uptick” in candidates, not an “uptake.”

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