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Davis, California

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Uncontested election fails to attract voters

Incoming senators hope to increase future student participation

Less than three percent of UC Davis undergraduates voted in the 2015 ASUCD Winter Election that took place the week of Feb. 16.

The elections website reveals that 792 students voted for at least one senate candidate, and 730 voted for the only presidential ticket. Out of the 26,620 undergraduate students estimated by the University’s Student Population Summary for Winter 2015, those who voted for their student-government constituted approximately 2.98 percent of the undergraduate population.

The results of the election were announced in Olson Hall to a group of mostly candidates and campaign managers; fewer than 10 people were present.

Incoming S.M.A.R.T. senator Danielle Santiago underscored the abnormality of the recent election.

“I remember election results being whole rooms in Wellman filled up, whole rooms in Olson filled up, and the amazingness and the energy that came from that because it was such a tight, competitive election,” Santiago said.

Independent senator-elect Sevan Nahabedian attributed the election’s low voter turnout and results attendance to the fact that the election was uncontested.

President-elect Mariah Watson offered a complementary explanation to the poor turnout at election results, stating that candidates had not invited friends to the election results due to a late room reservation.

“We didn’t have time, and we had other means of celebrating the election results,” Watson said.

Senator Amelia Helland, concerned about a lack of awareness about ASUCD, suggested that senators could do more now to promote the Association.

“I think it would be better if [senators] were more visible leaders,” Helland said. “We should be on our social media platforms making what we do known and talking to people. I think that would make more people know what the Association is and see how it has potential.”

Nahabedian stated that the primary goal for his imminent term is to improve voter turnout by loosening campaign regulations.

“Residence halls, for example, are off-limits to campaigns,” said Nahabedian. “That’s thousands of students that live on-campus that are kind of shut out of elections.”

This winter’s Student Population Summary estimates that the 3,824 freshmen currently enrolled account for about 14 percent of undergraduates.

Graphic by Jennifer Wu.


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