Q & A with the new Nominations and Elections Committee Chair
New chair Miller will be looking to diversify the committee, as well as to increase voter tunrout for the UA and Class Board
April 19, 2012, 9:59 pm · Updated April 23, 2012, 12:11 am·
Justin Cohen | DP
On Tuesday, Engineering and Wharton junior Alec Miller was elected the new chair of the Nominations and Elections Committee.
Miller, who formerly served as the vice chair for nominations of the NEC, sat down with The Daily Pennsylvanian to discuss some of his goals for the year ahead.
Daily Pennsylvanian: Why did you decide to run for NEC chair?
Alec Miller: I’ve really loved the organization for a long time. The role of chair is really unique because you get to interact with other branches of student government and administrators, so I thought this would be a good way to end my career on the NEC.
DP: What are your goals for the NEC this year?
AM: I think we sometimes get criticized for our lack of diversity. To recruit new membership next year, we’re going to take a more targeted approach. For instance, we will focus on sectors of the student population who don’t usually apply to be a part of Penn Student Government, such as freshmen in the Engineering School. Also, we are looking to reach students who cannot attend the Penn Student Government information session at the beginning of the year by creating electronic packets of information.
DP: This year’s Undergraduate Assembly and Class Board elections saw a voter turnout of 41 percent — a decrease from previous years. How do you hope to increase turnout next year?
AM: Yes, voter turnout was a little down this year, but at the same time we believe that the voter turnout was more educated than usual as a result of our new initiatives, such as Operation Run.
I also think we saw fantastic progress this year with the endorsement period. I’d like to continue developing and growing the Meet the Endorsers event. In terms of reaching more voters, we would like to reinstate Get Out the Vote next year, so that we can target both voter turnout and voter education. While currently we don’t have the operational budget to put on both events, I think it will be possible to work with the UA to obtain contingency funding so that we can reach our goals.
DP: Are there any specific challenges the NEC is facing this year?
AM: We’re losing a lot of great senior leadership, which will be tough. Also, the fact that it’s an election year will be tough. It will get students more excited about national elections and less about student government elections because of course the national elections are more important. At the same time, I would hope to leverage that excitement around voting and civic engagement to encourage students to get involved in government at the university level.
DP: What is the best part about working for NEC?
AM: There are three cool benefits of being a part of the NEC. The first is that it’s a four-year commitment. Because of that, we become very close as a body and don’t have to worry about membership turnover and retention. This makes us very unique as a student organization.
Another fun fact is that all of our deliberations are kept strictly confidential, so it’s fun to be a part of something secret.
Finally, most people tend to only pay attention to one race or one area of student government. But because of our role in student government — managing relations between student branches through steering and running all the student government elections — we have an amazing idea of how elections run at this school. Being able to observe the dramatic races from a third-party perspective and just watch everything unfold from the sidelines … is exciting.