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Souza: National election stigmas challenge ASCSU elections

Collegian | Preston Box

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Voting works because people think it matters.


To the diligent voter, having a voice in democracy is a privilege. They see voting as a form of self-expression, advocacy or even an innate citizen responsibility. They believe their vote has an effect, and for that reason, they recognize the importance of participating in and contributing to the election outcome.

But a lot of people — especially Generation Z — do not think like this.

In the 2020 election — which, keep in mind, had a record-high voting turnout — citizens 18-34 years old had the lowest turnout of all the age demographics at 57%. 

While party affiliation is still important, many CSU issues are not as black and white as our national two-party system portrays them and thus require a wide variety of perspectives to resolve.”

Although this was an increase of 8 percentage points from the 2016 election, the fact that the U.S. collectively considers only half of youth voting as a success feels a little like a premature celebration, especially compared to the voter turnouts of other countries, although the voting processes vary. Many other countries, as Pew Research points out, have automatic voter registration systems, which factor into the voting rates.

Some people wonder if it is an issue of accessibility. Maybe the youth don’t want to go through the process of registering. Maybe they don’t understand the necessity of voting, the privilege of having a voice. Maybe they don’t live close to any voting booths or have the resources to learn about elections or candidates. 

But at Colorado State University and for Associated Students of CSU elections, none of these statements fully apply. Most of us live on or frequently go to CSU’s campus, where the ASCSU offices and members are. Come election season, we often see candidates pacing around outside the Lory Student Center, trying to gain a few stragglers who can support their campaign. But accessibility to learning about ASCSU certainly isn’t the issue — all the materials are right at our fingertips.

I believe that national election stigma is what hurts ASCSU voter turnout the most — and by national election stigma, I mean applying all the tiresome things about national voting to ASCSU elections: traveling to a polling center, filling out long ballots, the political divide, endless debates between national parties and the whole voter registration process to begin with. A lot of voters also feel disconnected from the candidates at a national level because local issues are often overlooked.

I use the word stigma because the ASCSU voting process is much more accessible than national elections. For starters, you vote through RAMweb, the platform we as CSU students use for everything under the sun. You don’t need to commute, and you don’t need a blue or black pen; therefore, accessibility is much greater. 

As for the political divide, all of ASCSU despite each candidate’s party affiliation is focused on campus-related issues pertaining to you, not pertaining to the betterment and domination of their political party. While party affiliation is still important, many CSU issues are not as black and white as our national two-party system portrays them and thus require a wide variety of perspectives to resolve.


Because the ASCSU election candidates are CSU students themselves, there is not as much room for disconnect between voter and candidate as in national elections. Not to say that you will like or approve of every candidate and the problems they want to combat, but applying national election conventions to campus elections falsifies the ASCSU election process. It’s a lot easier and more different than some may think.

Most current college students have only voted in a couple elections — prominently the 2020 presidential election, the 2022 midterms or a local election. And statistically, only about half of us probably voted when we could to begin with. It’s time that we change the narrative and become diligent voters who believe in the power of their own voices, and the ASCSU election is a perfect place to start.

Reach Emma Souza at or on Twitter @_emmasouza.

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