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You, Too, Could Have Won The Dunster UC Election

Flora DiCara
Oct 2, 2017 · 5 min read
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The UC’s logo

Our open data source

At the Harvard Open Data Project, we are committed to holding Harvard’s institutions accountable through open information. We obtained official turnout data from Harvard’s Election Commission, which we have now made public, and below we’ll share our insights in the hopes of shedding light on the voting process and the outcome.

Only 12 people voted in the Dunster House UC Election

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Voter turnout by house/yard. All graphs courtesy of Stephen Moon.

Anyone in Dunster could have written in their name and won a seat on the Undergraduate Council.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. Adams, Dudley, Lowell, Mather, and Quincy were all no-contests as well. Everyone who ran got a spot. In fact, the most competitive race in the upperclass Houses was Pforzheimer, where 4 people vied for 2 open spots, an “admission” rate of 50%.

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Several houses, such as Adams and Dunster, were uncontested. The freshman yards, seen on the right, were far more competitive.

Why the enthusiasm gap?

We brainstormed several hypotheses for why some houses had such abysmal turnout and why some fared better. The hypothesis most supported by the data was that more-contested elections attracted more voters than less-contested ones. This trend was generally true, but there were many exceptions.

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Generally, more candidates meant higher turnout, but this wasn’t true across the board.

Insurgence in Eliot

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The highest turnout in each House since Spring 2016. Eliot set its all-time high this year.

Who knew freshmen were so politically engaged?

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A call to action

While we might make fun of it sometimes, low voter turnout is a huge problem on campus. The UC was created specifically to give students, elected by their peers, the ability to change the Harvard experience. Failure to participate in this process is a waste of a valuable opportunity. Casting your vote is the easiest way to ensure that your voice is being heard and that you are adequately represented.


Harvard College Open Data Project

Check out our analyses at http://hodp.org!

Thanks to Stephen Moon, Emma Ling, and Jeffrey Ding He

Flora DiCara

Written by

Harvard ’19.75. All opinions my own.

Harvard College Open Data Project

We're a Harvard student-faculty team dedicated to increasing data transparency and bringing data-driven insights to campus issues. Visit us at http://hodp.org

Flora DiCara

Written by

Harvard ’19.75. All opinions my own.

Harvard College Open Data Project

We're a Harvard student-faculty team dedicated to increasing data transparency and bringing data-driven insights to campus issues. Visit us at http://hodp.org

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