ASUCD’s abysmal voter turnout problem

HANNAH LEE / AGGIE

Student officials fail to effectively promote important special election

ASUCD held a special election from May 24-25 to vote on the re-establishment of the ASUCD judicial branch. Students had voted to approve a constitutional amendment to dissolve the branch in November, after various ASUCD officials campaigned for the amendment’s passage.

However, after ASUCD realized this quarter that the UC Office of the President requires student governments to have an unbiased court system, student officials drafted another constitutional amendment — one that would establish both an impartial ASUCD Judicial Council and an ASUCD Judicial Council Oversight Committee, which would not be required to be impartial.

In last week’s special election, roughly 68 percent of voters approved the new amendment, surpassing the 60 percent affirmation required for its passage. But this measure of the amendment’s support is entirely misleading. 198 students voted in the election. Yes, you read that right: 198 students. 127 students, which is roughly the attendance of a poorly-attended lecture in Rock Hall, were able to determine the future of the judicial branch of our university’s student government.

This isn’t to say that the Editorial Board is not pleased with the election results; we urged students prior to the election to vote and to support the amendment. But the voter turnout in this election is laughable, embarrassing and a complete farce. The Aggie has long called for ASUCD to work harder at increasing voter turnout for its elections, and ASUCD officials and candidates have often stressed the association’s pressing need to better engage with the campus community.

Granted, because this election was not one of ASUCD’s two regularly-scheduled elections during the academic year, one would not expect a staggeringly high voter turnout. But a total of 198 voters is indicative of a lethargic, complacent association, potentially burnt out from its inability to pass legislation earlier this year to create an effective system for judicial review of ASUCD. Social media outreach was scarce and sometimes non-existent from the student leaders who were elected to represent and inform their constituents. There is not one mention of the election on the ASUCD Senate Facebook page prior to May 24. ASUCD’s official Facebook page made a grand total of one post about the election.

The Editorial Board urges ASUCD and its student government to once again to reverse the trend of low voter turnout in student elections. We hope that student officials use the summer months to develop streamlined, specific strategies for increasing student engagement with the association. Higher engagement leads to higher participation, which leads to more interest in ASUCD and in student government. This interest should translate into higher voter turnout. The process is simple and straightforward, and we urge our student leaders to once and for all hold themselves accountable and do more than the bare minimum to accomplish these goals.