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Monday, May 20, 2024

Campus prepares for fall 2023 ASUCD election

ASUCD is attempting to increase voter turnout after low involvement in elections of recent years

 

By SYDNEY AMESTOY — campus@theaggie.org

 

October marked the beginning of preparations for the ASUCD fall 2023 elections. There are six seats in the ASUCD Senate up for election this cycle, with 26 candidates currently running for spots, according to ASUCD Elections Officer Reid Rizk. 

Voting opens on Nov. 14 and runs until Nov. 17, but candidates are already following election procedures where they attend workshops to both explain how the elections are going to work and sign themselves onto the ballot. New candidates had until Oct. 30 to sign on to the ballot for the election, according to the elections calendar. 

Undergraduate students participating in the election vote for every seat. To better inform their decisions, they will be provided with each candidate’s statement along with the ballot.

Current ASUCD Senator Dani Antonio, who was elected in the spring 2023 cycle, highlighted the importance of voting for ASUCD Senate positions.

The ASUCD elections are your rightful time to choose the student leaders you want to represent you,” Antonio said. “Elected senators will be advocating for you and amplifying your voices, so it’s extremely important that you get to have a say in who will be doing so. Also, senators hold one-fourteenths of a vote on all legislation, including a 20 million dollar budget that is made up of student fees. We want to ensure that we elect student leaders that will advocate and vote for substantial and equitable uses of this budget to properly represent the students that we serve.”

While these elections happen both in the fall and spring quarters on campus, past elections have shown a turnout problem, according to Rizk, and this is an issue ASUCD continues to adress through increasing student engagement.

“The voter engagement in 2020, when we passed the basic needs referendum, was 25 percent,” Rizk said. “Since then, it’s kind of been in decline. Fall of 2022, I believe, was the lowest it’s been in a very long time.”

Rizk explained that recent cycles have seen an uptick in voter turnout, but not enough to pass acts or referendums in the ballot. 

“We got 16 percent turnout last quarter,” Rizk said. “And unfortunately, TGIF [The Green Initiative Fund], which was the fee referendum that was on the ballot last quarter, did not get passed.”

Fee referendums need at least a 20 percent voter turnout to pass, according to Rizk. While this isn’t the case for votes regarding senate seats, Rizk still stressed the importance of student involvement in the ASUCD’s election process.

Student involvement is extremely important with elections,” Rizk said. “The people that get elected through these elections are campus leaders and regularly meet with administrative staff like the vice-chancellors, provosts and Gary May himself. They advocate for the student body in the state capitol and even on the federal level in Washington DC. They also allocate almost 20 million dollars of student fees to [different] units and groups that they oversee. So, ensuring that the people that students want to have represent them and to allocate their money [are] on the senate table is essential.”

Last quarter, ASUCD used incentives to encourage students to vote, something that,  according to Rizk, will continue this year.

“We’re just [trying] to build up elections again and create sort of an institution for elections here on campus, because all of this [ASUCD services] comes through student fees,” Rizk said. “And if we can’t pass a fee referendum with 20 percent, we run out of money and we will not [be] able to provide services to the student body and our community as a whole.”

Antonio continued on the importance of student representation in the ASUCD Senate by discussing how educational incentives can play a significant role in informed voting. 

“I think it’s great to have some sort of incentive to [vote], given that we do not live in an ideal world where every person comes out to vote,” Antonio said. “It’s definitely been a challenge on our part to encourage people to and is our responsibility to reach out to students. I do think that incentives without education mean nothing for what we want out of elections. We want to make sure that students know who and what they’re voting for too. We want them to have that autonomy to elect people they want to represent them.”

Students who are looking to learn more about the candidates for the fall election cycle can attend the ASUCD Election Candidate Debate, according to Zachary Boggeln, Internal Affairs Commission vice chairperson and member of the ASUCD Elections Committee. The debate will take place on Oct. 14 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the CoHo.

“The debate is a great opportunity for voters to hear from the candidates directly and get a better idea of who their first-choice candidates will be,” Boggeln said. “It is also a fantastic way for candidates to have a face-to-face dialogue with voters to better describe their goals in office if they are elected.” 

Students can visit the ASUCD Elections website from Nov. 14 to Nov. 17 to cast their votes.

Written by: Sydney Amestoy — campus@theaggie.org