Low voter turnout in ASCSU elections this year

Left to right, ASCSU Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidate Nigel Daniels and Andrew Olson and ASCSU Presidential and Vice Presidential Wendy Bowling and John Stockley.
Left to right, ASCSU Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidate Nigel Daniels and Andrew Olson and ASCSU Presidential and Vice Presidential Wendy Bowling and John Stockley.

This year, only 20.09 percent of CSU students decided to spend their time voting for next year’s student body president. This number is astonishingly low compared to the estimated 58.7 percent of eligible voters that took part in the Nov. 6 presidential election, according to nonprofitvote.org.

Election winners Nigel Daniels and Andrew Olson’s campaign was focused on “bridging the gap” between ASCSU and the student body, and Daniels says higher voter turnout would be a sign of more student involvement.

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In general, students aged 18 to 24 have a low voter turnout in any election, said Political Science Professor John Straayer. They are busy doing other things in other places, they do not have an established place in society and they probably do not have a home, so they believe they have less reason to vote, Straayer said.

“Specifically for campus elections, most of the students are worried about other things. They are thinking about their classes, their girlfriends and boyfriends, and they are thinking about the people they would like to have as their girlfriends or boyfriends,” Straayer said.

Straayer suggested that in order to get more students to vote, they could advertise that everyone who votes receives a $5 gift card to the LSC food court.

Straayer said that this would not invalidate the winner, because he or she would be induced to actually make a choice between candidates.

“Students are less than overwhelmed with the difference it makes — I doubt they even know any difference between the candidates,” Straayer said.

Current ASCSU President Regina Martel said they did give away some “Forever Green” T-shirts and Chipotle gift cards at the voting sites.

“We did a lot to try to get people out to vote. We had computers on the plaza, we tried to go to different organizations, but there is only so much time, right?” Martel said.

Martel said that not everyone is going to be as excited about voting, so it is up to ASCSU to get the information to the students who are passionate about it, so they can make an informed decision.

The winner of the 2013 ASCSU election, Nigel Daniels, agreed that offering a reward would be a great idea to encourage students to vote.

“It’s something to catch the attention, and if nothing else it would spark interest within the students, reminding them that ASCSU exists and is a place where they have a voice and they can actually be involved,” Daniels said.

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Daniels said he believes the weather was one reason why the voter turnout was so low.

“We hype it up so well, but it’s a drawn out process and for those three most important days, you just have to hope that everything turns out in your favor,” Daniels said.

Overall, the number of voters shows Daniels that ASCSU needs to have a bigger role in the student experience.

Coinciding with Daniel’s statement, education graduate student Kyle Brown said of ASCSU: “They don’t really do much. They don’t have as much sway on things as they think they do.”

Brown did not vote in this year’s election.

Others said they did not vote because of inconvenience and lack of time to do so.

“I did not vote because I couldn’t figure out anything about them besides what was happening on the plaza — I tend to try to avoid the plaza because there is a lot of stuff going on there. I would have stopped to vote, but I didn’t know anything about anyone running,” said sophomore chemistry major Tim Cuevas.

Of course, on the other side of the spectrum lie the 4,907 students who did take the initiative to vote, for varying reasons.

“I voted because I actually work in ASCSU and I know the importance of it — how it affects the office and CSU in general. I voted for Nigel and Andrew because I thought they had a better platform,” sophomore social work and communication major Terrance Harris said.

Junior nutrition sciences major Erica Hemenway decided to vote for Wendy and John because she felt as though they had a bigger presence on campus. This year, Henenway said she voted in order to gain “Greek Week” points.

Collegian Writer Cailley Biagini can be reached at news@collegian.com.