On November 22, one of the biggest student events will take place: the 26th KAIST undergraduate student presidential election. Through the presidential election, undergraduate students directly elect their representatives, who will serve for the entire student body for the upcoming year. The Election Commission, composed of the heads of student associations, is in charge of keeping the election free of problems and helping students to make the right choice. The KAIST Herald met with Jeongeun Choi, the chairman of this year's election who takes on this responsibility.
Could you please briefly introduce yourself?
Hello, my name is Jeongeun Choi and I am a junior majoring in the Department of Biological Sciences. I am the current president of the Student Club Union. I volunteered to be the campaign chairman of this year's election to help make the election clean and fair.
What is the role of the Election Commission?
The Election Commission handles the overall process of the election. While each presidential camp touts its candidates, the Election Commission advertises the election itself. Also, we play a monitoring role to ensure a clean campaign that has no irregularities. There are established electoral guidelines that candidates should follow during their campaigns. For example, campaign posters cannot be posted except on the designated boards. Campaign activities are banned outside of campus. Of course, spreading false information is strictly banned as well. To ensure that the election is fair, our job is to keep an eye on the campaigns and immediately rectify the contravention if any foul play is found.
The number of election commissioners is seven in total, but we recruited about 30 to 40 student volunteers who will be in charge of the actual election procedure work. With them, we deal with various tasks including the surveillance of voting locations. Also, we have a plan to broadcast the voting process via Twitter like we did during last year's election.
Could you explain the overall election procedure?
First of all, students who want to run for the election should register as candidates. A presidential camp is comprised of the presidential and vice presidential candidates. The candidate registration process is divided into the pre-registration and the official registration processes. Only pre-candidates who undergo the Election Commission's screening process are qualified to register as official candidates. Subsequently, each camp will campaign for votes for about a week until November 22. The voting will be held on November 23 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the designated voting locations in front of the cafeterias and the Creative Learning Building. The voting procedure will be supervised by one election commissioner, several student volunteers and one staff from each camp. Finally, the new undergraduate student representatives will start working next semester.
How will candidates run election campaigns?
Presidential camps recruit campaigners to help their election. The chosen methods of campaigning are up to the camps themselves. Basically, they will put up posters and banners with the candidates' photos and slogans. Campaigners will also hand out leaflets, cards and policy books. In front of the cafeterias and the Creative Learning Building, students will see the campaigners in their booths advertising their respective camps. Through various ways, like wearing unique T-shirts representing the camp, they will try to appeal to students.
What is planned by the Election Commission to raise voter turnout?
According to the electoral guideline, the election is valid only if the turnout exceeds 50%. If the turnout is lower than that, we extend the voting for a day. If the turnout still doesn't meet the minimum standard, we have no choice but to take the vote again. The turnout for last year's election barely passed 50%, and the year before last, the voting period had to be extended. The reason for the low turnout might be that students are too busy with their academic work and are pretty passive in participating in school affairs. Every year the Commission makes efforts to make the students come out from their dormitories and vote. We post notices on bulletin boards and hang banners around campus to inform and motivate students. Additionally, last year, the Commission made some comic posters that parodied the face of the former chairman. We are planning to do something similar this time as well.
Do you have any other comments?
As chairman, I would like to say that the most desirable election is one in which the Election Commission doesn't have to do much work. Because all of candidates running for the election are there to devote themselves to the school, I believe that there will be no corruption or wrongdoing. To the undergraduate students, I want to ask them to exercise their right to vote. Please, make a deliberate choice on the candidate who you think is the best leader for the school.
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