The polls opened yesterday at 6 a.m. for the 2014 Student Government elections. As of 5:40 p.m. on the first day of voting, 2,492 students had voted online for the executive candidates.

Current SGA President Jake Baker was on Pedestrian Walkway with two laptops set up on the polling website, encouraging students to vote. With only 18 percent of students voting in the 2013 SGA elections, Baker hopes to see an improvement this election season.

"I'm really curious to see how voter turnout is this year," Baker said. "It increased a little last year, and we're hoping to see that trend continue in the future.

"There's definitely a lot of excitement around the campaigns this year, so hopefully we'll see a lot of students get out there and vote."

According to vice presidential candidate Ryan Whitener, the [Insert] campaign has played a large role in stirring student interest.

"[Insert] is something new and different and people who have never followed SGA before are probably going to follow this race closer than they ever have," Whitener said. "I think [Insert] has highlighted a lot of problems with SGA and so people are going to be more aware of those in future races."

On Tuesday night, candidates were able to discuss their potential policy points, how they define SGA leadership responsibilities and their individual qualifications for leading at the SGA debate in the Toyota Auditorium.

With each candidate motivated by the desire to improve campus, Baker said they had very similar ideas. The debate gave candidates the chance to stand out from the rest.

"It was really great to see where they fall on certain issues and what really differentiates them when they're all together," Baker said.

We Are UT candidate for student services director, Katelyn Hadder said that overall the debate was handled in a "professional manner." At the debate, Hadder had to address claims that she is less qualified due to a lack of SGA experience.

Candidates will continue to campaign throughout the day on Thursday until voting ends at 4:30 p.m.

"For some reason campaign strategy 101 is to just smother your constituency like some crazy ex-girlfriend," said [Insert] student services director candidate Kyle White. "So that's what we're going to go with and hope that it works."

Kathleen Connelly, a senior in philosophy and current senator representing Volunteer Hall, stressed that regardless of which box is checked on the ballot, each student has a responsibility to vote.

"The simple act of voting is an act of self-determination, a poke in the eye for everyone who says college students really count as adults," Connelly said. "When you vote for a candidate, you're also voting for an idea – that student self-governance is a worthwhile project."

Click here to vote in the 2014 SGA elections.