Just when you think it is safe to ride on the bikepath, a loosely placed lawn sign that reads “Joe Blow for A.S. President” jumps out at you due to the high winds. Suddenly you are hit with the first barrage of campaign materials of the A.S. election season.

Fortunately, the Elections Committee will be out there to enforce matters like this, so the campus could be safe from campaign litter and the election process could be fair. But it is never too beautiful of a sight during election season. With an extended voting period this year due to online voting, the campus will look like a war zone during Spring Insight, when students and their parents who are considering attending this school tour the campus. However, to limit the number of signs this year, each party and candidate running unaffiliated is limited to two signs per grassplot.

Also this year, the voting process has gone high-tech. To mirror the high turnout that we got during the fall special election, voting will be done online. Besides a higher turnout, online voting means faster election results. But talking to people who voted and attempted to vote in the fall election, I have heard stories concerning technical problems from voting online. Some were logged off by Gold when trying to vote, and others weren’t sure they submitted their selections.

Also, paying Veritools, the private company in charge of setting up the online voting, for this election is not cheaper than what we were promised; Veritools claimed online voting would cost less. But hopefully in the long run, online voting could be more dependable and much cheaper than the conventional polling system.

The Elections Committee this year has also decided to move the party declaration and mission statements before the declaration of candidacy. This will allow candidates to have a better understanding of the party system and each party’s platform. In past elections, candidates have had no idea what the party system is, or worse, they join a party not knowing what they stand for. Although the majority does know, others who are left out end up losing by a landslide or fooled by the party they join.

And a note to the people who are thinking about running, parties are extremely important if you want to win. Since the establishment of the party system two years ago, everyone who has been elected an executive officer or a legislative representative had been affiliated with a party. In fact only two legislative representatives have ever won without affiliation.

So if you’re really thinking about being a student leader and making a difference, running for an A.S. office, especially for legislative representative, is a good starting point. And I urge everyone, if you don’t plan to run, at least log on to Gold and vote, because not only are you deciding on who your next student leaders will be, there are also key initiatives, lock-in fees and reaffirmations that will affect the student body.

Finally, party declaration mission statements are due on Feb. 18 and you can pick up your declaration of candidacy forms at the A.S. Main Office on Feb. 21. The deadline to turn in the forms will be Thursday, March 6 at 4 p.m. They are to be turned in at the Community Affairs Board office.

Edward Yan is an on-campus representative on Legislative Council and an at-large member on the Elections Committee.