USG candidates fund out of pocket for campaigns
Undergraduate Student Government candidates may fear a low voter turnout, but with rigorous marketing campaigns they can rest assured that their voters definitely know what they look like. This year's USG presidential campaign once again demonstrated the power of the poster, with both tickets taping and stapling posters on buildings, buses and social spaces. However, although USG allots up to 500 free copies to both tickets, candidates are free to make as many out-of-pocket expenses as they can afford.
Candidates mainly use posters to get their platform established in the eyes and minds of students. Beyond that, the respective parties have also employed social media groups to gain a following. Carlyle Bethel, a presidential candidate for USG, said that his Facebook group has attracted about 500 members.
"Compared to last years pages, there were about 200 members for both sides," Bethel said.
Both tickets also made use of campaign videos filmed by UCTV, a first for USG campaigns.
"I'd say that the best way to reach voters is to talk to them, and I think from there they can see your face everywhere, and money can't buy that," Bethel said.
Claire Price, a vice presidential candidate for USG on the opposing ticket, said that her campaign has spent an additional $200 out of pocket for an extended marketing campaign. This money went mostly into additional posters and flyers.
"Mark (Sargent) paid for most of it out of pocket. We kind of had to put a limit on the number of posters because it was getting expensive."
Bethel did not state how much out of pocket expenses he accumulated, however his campaign made use of campaign pins, which cost about $100 for 500 of them. Due to USG laws regarding campaigning at USG-sponsored events, they distributed the pins with printed note cards stating that the pins should not be used at those events.
Both campaigns made use of outside help to offset the cost labor for the extensive campaigns. Price had a hometown friend design their campaign posters, and Bethel commissioned a UConn student to design theirs.
USG does not have established rules governing how much money candidates can spend, as long as it is out of pocket. Theoretically, a more affluent candidate could potentially gain an advantage by simply outspending their opponent.
"I think it is something USG should look into to see if the system that is in place now is fair," Bethel said.
"Who knows which candidate had more money?" Price said.
Budgets aside, it is ultimately up to the candidate to use speeches and charisma to prove they are worthy of the position. However, as Bethel said, "A nice poster catches their eye, and really explains what is going on."
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