Reverse trend of low voter turnout

HANNAH LEE / AGGIE

Vote in ASUCD elections next week

Voter turnout in recent ASUCD elections indicate a student body disconcertingly apathetic toward both elections and student-run government.

Turnout for voting on senate candidates in the most recent Winter Quarter election reached 4,441 votes — over 1,000 less than in 2013. Polling hit rock bottom in Winter Quarter 2015, with only 792 students voting out of the 28,384 eligible voters, a staggering 2.79 percent of the undergraduate student body.

It’s difficult to understand the significance of these numbers without putting them in perspective, but the fact of the matter is that UC Davis’ statistics pale in comparison to other UC’s numbers.

In 2016, 12,559 students voted in UC Berkeley’s Associated Students election. In that same year, UCLA and UC Santa Cruz boasted voter percentages of 40.3 and 39.74, respectively, in their elections.

Part of UC Davis’ consistently low voter engagement can be attributed to ASUCD’s insufficient presence on campus. Although many senators run on platforms intended to bridge the gap between student government and the student body, ASUCD’s engagement with UC Davis students has shown little to no improvement.

However, ASUCD alone is not to blame for the student population’s lack of involvement in government.

UC Davis’ low turnout is also in part due to the student body’s disinterest in those who represent them at the student government level. This disinterest is unsettling considering these representatives handle topics on campus such as sexual assault, mental health, cultural competency, undocumented students, safety and so many more issues that affect UC Davis students on a daily basis.

To not take part in the election of ASUCD officials means accepting when one of these issues falls by the wayside.

This applies on a national and international level as well.

Although Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a margin of almost 2.9 million, and despite the fact that President Trump’s current approval rating sits at a meager 41 percent (lower than the past nine U.S. presidents’ approval ratings during their first February in office), 40 percent of eligible Americans still did not vote in the general election. Voter apathy could arguably be the reason that the most sexist, racist and reckless modern-day candidate to run for office now holds the position of one of the highest elected officials in the world.

This past November showed that, no matter the significance of an election, and no matter the amount of people it affects — people simply don’t vote.

Don’t be one of those people.

The Editorial Board urges students to vote in the upcoming ASUCD election, running from Tuesday, Feb. 21 until Friday, Feb. 24. Ballots are available at elections.ucdavis.edu.

Whether it be a national, community or university election — make your vote count, because all politics starts on a local level.