When a student referendum cut the number of Undergraduate Council members nearly in half, some predicted hotly contested elections with veteran council members battling to keep their seats.
But with the deadline for candidacy petitions fast approaching, council representative races do not appear to be any more competitive than in the past.
Petitions from students running for council representative are due today at 5 p.m.
But yesterday morning, Dudley House had no candidates and Kirkland House only had candidates for two of three positions. Adams, Dunster, Leverett, Mather, Pforzheimer and Winthrop Houses and all three first-year districts had competitive races.
In Cabot, Currier, Eliot, Lowell and Quincy Houses, there were as many candidates as representative slots yesterday. There were 67 people in total running for the 48 slots available on the council.
The candidates for this year's posts will be the first to hold office on a council downsized by a ballot initiative passed during last year's presidential elections. The initiative to slash the size of the council from 90 to 50 members won overwhelmingly.
Backers hoped the initiative would make council races more competitive and council members more accountable to their constituents. In several Houses, candidates ran unopposed last year.
The new, smaller size of the council will make it more accountable regardless of voter turnout, Driskell said.
"If upperclass voter participation doesn't go up, that doesn't mean downsizing has failed," she said.
But as of yesterday, initial concern that downsizing the council would force out dedicated members seemed unwarranted.
For example, Lowell House, historically one of the Houses with the most competitive elections, had only three people running for its three positions as of yesterday afternoon.
"People seemed to have psyched themselves out of the race," Driskell said.
The elections are likely to produce a turnover in the council's leadership, since several members of the council's executive board will not be returning to their posts this fall.
While he is standing for election in Currier House, council treasurer Sterling P.A. Darling '01 has said he does not plan to run for treasurer again. Secretary Jean E. Huang '03 of Eliot House will not be running for the council at all.
"I had other interests I wanted to pursue this year," Huang said.
In another reform meant to streamline the process, this year petitioning is being conducted entirely online for the first time. In past years, candidates had to submit a pink paper form with their signatures.
"Every year the president and vice-president would spend forever trying to decipher the names," council member Paul A. Gusmorino III '02 said.
This year, candidates must submit their names, e-mail addresses and districts.
Any student can run for the council by submitting a petition online at www.hcs.harvard.edu/~hruc/elections.
Elections will begin next Wednesday at midnight and run through next Friday night. Results will be posted next Saturday, and the first meeting of the new Undergraduate Council will be Sunday, Oct. 8.
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