Editor’s Note: Please give a warm welcome to Jake, our newest contributor.

When I took a look at the elections results from the past week, I was struck by some of the write-ins.  Students, Brandeis professors, religious figures and totalitarian dictators were tabulated along with the declared candidates for each race. I am the first to admit that some of the ballots cast are amusing; the idea that Hitler, Big Bird, and former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka all tied for Associate Justice of the Student Judiciary shows a certain degree of creativity on the part of three individual voters. However, not all of the votes were as innocent or childish. In one race, while a student – let’s call him Joe Bloggs – was elected to another term on the Union, three voters wrote in “Not Joe A. Bloggs,” “Not Joe ever,” and “Too Much Joe,” respectively.

In addition to the fact that this sort of joke would be hurtful to anyone, this brings about questions of purpose and overall value to the campus’ political dialogue: why take the time to come up with a write-in which you might find funny? First, voter turnout is incredibly low.  With the exception of the Senator for the Class of 2013 election, which yielded a 47.8 percent turnout of freshmen, all of the elections from the most recent cycle ranked in between 21 and 34 percent. This means that roughly one fourth of the students eligible to vote in each election care enough to log onto the union website and take three minutes out of their day.

Because of this, and because the official voting data is not widely released, the portion of the student body who takes the time to notice the outrageous write-ins is even smaller.  Combined with the fact that all votes are anonymous, it seems pointless to make a joke which very few people will read, find amusing, and credit you with a good joke. If nothing else, why not abstain in any election where there is no standout candidate or candidates?  In some cases, the Abstain category can win an election over an unopposed candidate. This makes an actual statement about disapproval of the Brandeis candidates and the overall electoral process without the sarcasm of a fake write-in.

12 comments on “Write-Ins”

  1. Comrade Says:

    I feel like it represents our generation’s distaste of representation. I take this apathy and write-in mockery as an extension of the post-modern project which our generation so embodies and furthers, whether intentionally ideologically or not. How can someone speak for another person? For a group of people? What about a group with diverse interests and that is not organized into some sort of ideological bloc?

    Post-modernism would say that these are massive difficulties, and possibly un-surmountable difficulties in representation.
    If you don’t see this in the political realm, simply look to the hipster desire for living without labels, without cliches, etc; these things, just like political representatives, are unable to accurately represent another person.

  2. Dan Says:

    Since this joke was so hurtful, I’m not sure it was helpful to publish it on Innermost Parts. I understand that it’s important to give an example of the kind of pointless write-ins being submitted, but I don’t think it was necessary to name Judah specifically.

  3. Nathan J. Robinson Says:

    I welcome Jake to the blog, but I must register my complete dissatisfaction with his humorlessness!

  4. NathanJRobinson Says:

    Also, yes, good point, Dan. No need to publicize the write-ins if you feel they are hurtful. Bit of the ol’ hypocrisy, eh?

  5. Jake Says:

    @Nathan, I appreciate your concern but I can assure you that I do, in fact, have a healthy sense of humor.

    @Dan, and Nathan, just to be clear, I do not condone any of the write-ins which were intended to be hurtful to a candidate. I was not trying to add to the insult, I was simply trying to point out that in an election it is both hurtful and pointless to cast a joke instead of a vote which could voice an important opinion. I used Judah because I think that the three particular votes are proper examples of the problem, and I would hope that their use would be considered as part of the problem I am discussing, and not as a continuation of the joke.

  6. Ashamed Says:

    Do the editors or contributors to Innermostparts even begin to recognize the inappropriateness of posting results such as the hillel election, before formal announcement, even after pleading from students and staff? Do you realize the damage you caused by not censoring the “1 vote” wonders in those results?

  7. Sahar Says:

    Dude. Dude. They are censored. Check for yourself.
    This goes against my beliefs – but we did it anyways because of a lot of pleading from the Hillel people.

    As far as I know, everything is fine and the Hillel demands are met.
    So what are you talking about? Am I missing something?

  8. Ashamed Says:

    It took 12 hours to take the single-votes off the site, and in that time, you hurt a lot of people. Diana Aronin may let it fly for SU elections, but it was irresponsible to post for a community like hillel.

  9. Adam Hughes Says:

    Ashamed,

    No, I don’t realize the damage we caused. Please enlighten me as to exactly what catastrophe we brought upon Brandeis by publishing the results of a campus-wide election. We posted only what we received, and honestly, I don’t think we were at all wrong to do that. Why would Hillel send out results that they didn’t want publicized?

    When I was on the elections commission for the Union earlier this semester, we carefully went through and deleted every write-in that was for anything other than an eligible Brandeis student. I’m surprised that they have since discontinued that practice, and I encourage new elections commissioner Herbie Rosen to restore it.

  10. Rachel Says:

    Adam- just to clarify something for you, Hillel did NOT send out those results. Diana Aronin did. Hillel obviously did not want those results, write ins and all, publicized, or they wouldn’t have said anything to you guys at Innermost Parts.

  11. Lev Says:

    As a somewhat outside observer (obviously I write posts for innermostparts sometimes, but had nothing to with this particular controversy), its seems odd to me the upset that people have here with innermostparts.

    Maybe I’m missing some information here, but it seems like this happened:

    1. Community-wide Hillel elections happen
    2. Diana Aronin sends out the results to media, including innermostparts
    3. Innermostparts does the most logical thing – which is to publish the results
    4. Hillel complains because they don’t want the write-in votes publicized
    5. Within 12 hours the problem is fixed.

    Whose problem was it? It seems like it was an honest mistake on the part of the Secretary, an honest mistake on the part of innermostparts.

    There doesn’t seem to be anything “inappropriate” about it really. The offensive write-in votes have now been censored. If anyone was hurt because of them, its a shame, but that is not the fault of innermostparts.

  12. Alex N. Says:

    I know I, for one, made up write-ins in the Hillel elections because I didn’t know Hillel’s abstain rules and didn’t want to contribute to any of the candidates not winning. At the same time, I didn’t know them and didn’t want to just vote for them.

    And no, hurtful write-ins don’t make much sense.

    Also, I agree with everything that Lev said and much of what Adam said, especially the somewhat sarcastic sentiment expressed in his first two sentences.