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Online trustee elections expected to increase efficiency and participation

Alumni have until April 1 to vote for their top two candidates in this year's alumni trustee election. This will be the first time all voting is online at

Online voting has been an option for the past few years, but Cornell still printed and mailed paper ballots to its 250,000 alumni -- at an annual cost of approximately $100,000. Chris Marshall, associate vice president for alumni affairs, expects the full online conversion to do more than save money and paper. He's hoping the increased efficiency will also increase participation.

"Alumni want and need a voice at the trustee level," he says. Cornell is one of only a handful of universities that give alumni the opportunity to choose their board of trustees representatives. But, historically, only about 9 percent of the population has voted. "We hope to ultimately increase participation, and we believe online voting is one key," he says.

Trustee Blanche Goldenberg '74 is confident it will help. "If I know my own contemporaries, what we respond to and what we don't, we respond to the Web first," she says. "Those younger than I clearly respond that way. Chances are that a young person taking the subway in some metropolitan area will take 10 minutes and cast their ballot, whereas they won't bring their snail mail with them."

To verify identity and ensure security, alumni must vote using their Cornell NetIDs. For those who have not yet activated their IDs, Marshall's staff has set up a NetID activation help line, staffed Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST. They also sent postcards notifying alumni of the changes and plan to send a series of e-mails explaining the process and reminding people to vote. Those who need to vote by paper ballot can request one through the Office of Alumni Affairs.

Goldenberg hopes that when alumni read the candidates' statements, they will be compelled to vote. "This is an opportunity for alumni to look for skill sets they think are most important," she says. "These candidates are truly the best of the best."

This year's candidates are:

To vote, or to learn more about alumni NetID activation, visit

trustee candidates

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