Student Senate Elections are a tradition on most campuses.
The Spring 2019 election for the Winona State University Student Senate was no different.
Ben Ellgen, newly elected Student Senate president said the Senate considers 10 percent of the student body voting to be a success, which is about 800 students out of about 8,000 students.
According to the Spring 2019 election data 904 Winona State students voted.
Of those who voted in the 2019 election a total of 796 students voted for the treasurer tickets and 804 voted for the president and vice president tickets.
Ellgen commented on the voter turnout for the Spring 2019 election.
“I frankly was a little disappointed. I love Senate and I know the good work it can do,” Ellgen said. “I would have liked to see more people participate. Especially in a contested election.”
In the Spring 2018, election the candidates for the executive positions ran unopposed.
For treasurer in Spring 2018, 916 people voted for the position, 120 more people than the most recent election.
The president and vice president ticket in the Spring of 2018 had 923 people who voted, 119 more people than the most recent election.
The lowest voter turnout was for the Fall of 2018. 466 Winona State Students voted in the election.
The elections are not only used to elect student leaders but also to have the student body vote for changes to the constitution.
Christina Melecio, current Student Senate president said in order to approve any constitution changes Senate, needs 10 percent of the student body to vote and the majority to approve it.
The Spring of 2018 vote was close to not passing with 811 votes.
Melecio said there are two rules for candidates that are talked about more because they are the rules most often broken.
“The first one would be no campaigning within 25 feet of the Senate office,” Melecio said. “Then there is no spending more than $250 per ticket.”
For example, the president and vice president run as a ticket, meaning they run together. They have $250 to spend together.
The $250 is for posters, buttons, stickers or anything else the person running feels they need for their campaign.
Nicole Ruhland and Ben Ellgen described their experience with the process when they ran for president against each other in the Spring 2019 election.
Ellgen said the process of the election was long but rewarding.
“It was a lot of time, lot of late nights, a lot of going out to clubs, a lot of interactions,” Ellgen said. “It is definitely an intensive process. But, at the same time, it’s really rewarding.”
Ellgen said it was a humbling process.
“Honestly, it is not fun that week or two. But, again, it is so rewarding to get out into the Winona Community and it is such humbling process,” Ellgen said.
Ruhland said the process was interesting and she learned a lot about herself.
Ruhland has never campaigned like this before. She said she was not used to talking about herself and what she wanted to do.
She did learn she can public speak and said she appreciated meeting so many people.
“I got to meet a lot of people and that was exciting,” Ruhland said. “It also made me realize that I can do public speaking. It’s scary but it is possible.”
For more information on the Winona State Student Senate: