FAMU election culture shifts to online amid COVID-19

The FAMU Electoral Commission’s logo. Photo courtesy of FAMU electoral commission Facebook page.

Due to the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, the university is no longer hosting traditional elections and voting will now take place online.

This means students can no longer witness aspiring candidates’ campaigns on campus. The 49th Senate President Pro-Tempore, Zoe Mitchell, confirmed the shift to online elections for this year.

“Student government in conjunction with the electoral commission is making the best out of an unusual situation,” Mitchell said. “Since pretty much everything else has moved online, it only makes sense to move elections and campaigning online as well. Last Wednesday we approved the election codes that were amended to ensure that this new election process is regulated in addition to future elections.”

Student elections held at Florida A&M University has become a stable of its prominent history and an experience the student body looks forward to. The elections require students to participate and vote for prestigious positions like Miss FAMU, Mister FAMU, King and Queen of Orange and Green class attendants and student government officials. 

This new decision to move elections online allows FAMU students to vote from the safety of their homes. Some students are supportive of this motion to an online setting.

Junior information technology major, Caleb Mclean, gives his thoughts on what he feels online elections will provide to the FAMU community.

“Online elections serve as an effective substitution that accommodates the fact that were supposed to be practicing social distancing,” Mclean said. “I feel it is important that the student body gets a chance to still express their opinions. This also keeps the students feeling a small connection with the campus in times when they may feel disconnected.”

Erika Johnson, a third-year vocal performance major, agrees that online voting is beneficial for the upcoming election.

“I was excited to experience the tradition of elections. If online voting encourages the student body to vote, I don’t mind the alternative option,” said Johnson.

Although there are members of the student body that are in favor of online voting due to social distancing guidelines, some students are against the notion.

Senior music industry major, Rogerick Bryant, explains his negative view on the effect of elections being held online for the spring semester.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea because it takes away from the whole culture of giving students the opportunity to vote for who they favor most from campaigning,” said Bryant.

Sophomore class president, Cirsten Jones, has a comparable standpoint on why elections being held online is not the best decision.

“I find it unfair,” Jones said. “A lot of individuals have spent money on items that will not be able to be showcased. Also, for some this was a chance for their family members to see them work for a title they really wanted.”

FAMU elections for spring 2020 has faced a disruption in how it is normally regulated however, FAMU’s Student Government Association is still working to make sure elections run smoothly. 

FAMU SGA member, Joshua Clements, reassures the student body that they are still working efficiently during this time.

“The recent circumstances of the coronavirus have raised a lot of turmoil,” Clements said. “However, SGA is working diligently to come up with a solution to keep elections running fairly.”

Elections are set to be held on April 21 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.