A.S. Defends Efforts in Publicizing Elections

As elections begin, confusion, apathy, and lack of knowledge appear to bring low voter turnout this semester. 

When a reporter asked on Monday, April 3, the first day of elections week, what efforts the Associated Students (A.S.) board had made to promote and educate students about the Associated Students elections this semester, several members said they had done their part by posting a banner in the quad, putting up flyers and posting on the A.S. Facebook page and Instagram account.

According to the A.S. Constitution and By-Laws, the Election Committee has the responsibility of publicizing the elections. According to Article II, Section 5(5), "[A]ll elections must be announced by public notice at least fourteen (14) days before the election."

As of the Friday before the start of elections week, the A.S. homepage and website still did not list any information about election week or how to vote; it only displayed candidate information regarding March deadlines and meetings.

ICC Chair Kyana Shajari, who is on the Election Committee, said, “We worked with the Corsair, we had ads in the Corsair.” The Associated Students Board of Directors did not place an ad in the Corsair during the Spring 2018 semester, instead of having two pages listing all of the candidates as part of the paper's content.

Board members also mentioned efforts to reach out through fliers and social media. Director of Publicity Stephanie Hernandez said: “We also sent it to the counselors and the clubs. We also posted to the social media we have... We put it on Instagram and Facebook because that’s where the majority of whatever the information we give out is going through.” 

But at the time of this writing, the A.S. Board's Facebook page had 1,604 followers, while their Instagram account had 516 followers at the time of this writing, compared to the approximately 30,000 students that attend SMC. An audit of the A.S. Facebook and Instagram accounts also reveal that social media posts were made in March, but it only referenced information for potential candidates meeting dates and did not specify the dates for election week, or how voting would be conducted.

However, on Monday, April 3 at 5:37 p.m., less than an hour after the Corsair asked questions about the Election Committee's duty to publicize the elections, the A.S. Facebook page made its first post specifying the dates and time for election week. In addition, the Facebook link that should take students to the A.S. homepage was broken. A similar post was made to the A.S. Instagram account that same day.

When asked why the A.S. board does not email students directly to inform them of the elections, President Chen said, “We don’t have access to all of the student’s emails.” Both Chen and Shajari believe that they have done enough to promote the elections and that the candidates have a responsibility to reach out to students and the students have a responsibility to get informed. Shajari said: “We don’t want to say that students don’t care. Students are busy, there’s a lot of stuff to do. Like [Chen] said, it’s hard. Like, we can only do our part.”

In addition to the social media posts, the banner, and the flyers, Shajari stated: “We have election committee agendas that come out and they’re right there. They’re posted right in front of the AS office; people walk by they can see. We’ve been publicizing, so I don’t know what the issue is.”

On Monday, students interviewed at random on the main campus either did not know it was elections week or had only recently learned of the elections -- and none were due to actions were taken by A.S. to publicize the election.

Jack Sullivan, a student, said he knew it was A.S. elections week because "I had people who were running for office come into my classes today," he said. Before that, he didn't know about the elections. He says he did not see any signs on campus and that he does not follow the A.S. on social media.

Mariane Kacoudjango first heard about the elections last Thursday during Club Awareness week when candidates asked for her vote. Asked if she follows A.S. on social media, she said, "No, I'm not really on Instagram."

Three other students, Alondra Magallanes, Mickey Hao, and Karim Kreik, were not aware it was elections week and said they do not follow A.S. on any of their social media accounts.

At the start of the candidate forum on Tuesday, April 3, President Chen told the approximately 100 people attending the forum to get the word out, and as Corsair Editor-in-Chief and moderator for the forum, Edward Lee, was bringing the forum to a close, Chen approached the microphone to tell students how to cast their ballot. After confirming with Lee, Chen announced that the elections would end on Thursday at 11:59 p.m.