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Clickers Enable Online Tracking Of Senate Voting

Libby Nelson

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By Libby NelsonThe Daily Northwestern

Click. Starting with Wednesday night’s meeting, Associated Student Government voting records will be available online once senators start using a $1,500 electronic clicker system to register their votes.

Each senator will have a clicker. ASG will continue to use vocal votes of “aye” and “no” as they have in the past, but if a victory is not clear, senators will pull out their clickers and vote with them instead.

Typically, about 90 percent of verbal votes are recounted using existing methods, said Speaker of the Senate Jonathan Webber, a SESP junior.

The clickers, financed by an ASG account, will replace the present system of recounting votes. Currently, senators stand up to vote for or against a motion. If the outcome is still unclear, senators call out their vote individually.

The new system will be more efficient by replacing those two steps with the click of a button, Webber said.

It also will give the system greater accuracy.

“Sometimes votes are on really big things,” Webber said. “(For funding) it’s thousands of dollars. We want to ensure we get the exact right vote every time.”

Publishing voting online will enable groups to see if their senators voted and how well they are represented, he said. Absent senators will also be able to see how their alternates voted.

Senators probably will inaugurate the new system by voting on a bill dealing primarily with internal Senate affairs, Webber said.

One bill calls on ASG President Jay Schumacher, a Communication senior, to create a five-member ad hoc committee to study student opinion to guide ASG’s initiatives. The committee would be a sustainable way to measure opinion on campus, Webber said.

ASG currently has no polling system in place to determine student opinion. The new system probably would use random samples of about 200 students and some focus groups to try to give ASG an accurate view, Webber said.

Next week, SAFB will release its funding recommendations for Fall Quarter, beginning the three-week process of providing supplemental funding to student groups.

Reach Libby Nelson at libbynelson@northwestern.edu.

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