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The student news site of Inglemoor High School

Nordic News

The student news site of Inglemoor High School

Nordic News

The student news site of Inglemoor High School

Nordic News

ASB elections should be more transparent

ASB+elections+should+be+more+transparent

ASB held elections for executive officer positions for the 2024-25 school year on March 13. In total, 375 students voted, only 32% of the school population. Although there is very little controversy about ASB election integrity in general, students are often not familiar with the actual process of the election. The school’s protection of election data has good intentions, but they have the opportunity to set a good example for election transparency by being proactively transparent about the election process and results.

Democracy is one of the fundamental values of American society, but that does not mean it should ever be taken for granted. Free and fair elections are nonexistent in Russia, China and many other authoritarian states worldwide, and the concept of democracy is not always respected here in the United States. Therefore, it is crucial for everyone to understand and take part in upholding democratic processes.

ASB, by definition, is a student government created to promote the interests of the student body. However, article II, section 2 of Inglemoor’s ASB’s constitution states that one of its purposes is to “provide learning in citizenship, service, and training of leaders,” showing that ASB’s purpose, in addition to representing students, is the arguably more important goal of preparing students to be leaders and good members of society. Therefore, it is crucial that ASB sets a good example for students and for society in general by actively releasing election data to maximize transparency and build trust within the Inglemoor community.

Nordic requested several election statistics on March 15 under the Public Records Act, which requires schools and other government bodies to provide a copy of any of their non-exempt documents to anyone who requests them. However, the school initially declined to release most of the requested data, including the number of votes each candidate received, expressing concerns regarding potential emotional and mental impacts for candidates who didn’t win. They also cited the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law that protects students’ education records by exempting them from the Public Records Act. Although ASB’s desire to protect students is good-willed, schools can make exceptions to FERPA with parent permission.

In the future, the school should state on the application form signed by candidates’ parents that election statistics may be released in order to facilitate increased election transparency. Some candidates may be dissuaded from running for office if ASB were to make election statistics public, but risk-taking is inherent in any leadership position and it is beneficial for candidates to have an opportunity to take such risks while the stakes are relatively low. Election information should not be treated as inherently private, and the importance of democracy and transparency should not be lessened in the interests of candidates’ emotions.

Many students and even teachers do not fully understand how the election functions, which is a major obstacle to transparency and the student body’s connection with ASB. Critically, the student vote does not directly decide the winner; in fact, it is only one of three components factored into each candidate’s final score, with the other two being scores from teacher recommendations and ASB’s interview with candidates. With the vote only weighted as 60% of each candidate’s final score, it is quite possible for the opinion of teachers and ASB to sway the results away from the student vote, but teachers are not told how they are used or that their answers contribute to candidates’ scores. This means it is misleading for ASB to call the whole process an election per se. This three-component system is only mentioned once in the application packet, which very few people other than candidates are likely to sit through and read. The process would be more transparent if ASB talked more about this system in announcements about the election and explained why the opinion of staff and ASB factor so much into what people view to be a student election for student government positions.

Even though most ASB election statistics can’t legally be published without the permission of candidates’ parents, the school should take the extra step to make election results transparent to show that they are committed to transparency, build trust within the community and set a good example for future leaders and politicians, which are all essential functions of ASB.

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About the Contributor
Weiju Wang (he/him)
Weiju Wang (he/him), Co-Copy Editor
Junior Weiju Wang is heading into his third year in Nordic and second year as a copy editor. He’s excited to work with everyone on staff and continue to contribute to the publication. Outside of Nordic, he participates in the school’s robotics team and a variety of hobbies, including language learning, coding, piano, and calligraphy.

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