Campaign efforts fail to win students votes

People walked out of their morning classes on Thursday, April 8 to find themselves bombarded by a mob of fellow SMC students carrying laptops, fliers and asking the question that everyone had heard at least ten times that afternoon: "Have you voted yet?" The frantic candidates and blasting music signaled the encroaching closing of polls that afternoon at 4 p.m. for Associated Student elections. In a last ditch effort to get students interested in voting, the election committee hosted candidate row in the quad giving SMC students and faculty the opportunity to personally meet each slate and independent runner.

This year the polls racked up 2,106 voters out of the school's population of over 35,000 students. The number of voters decreased by 460 votes from the last elections.

Friday, April 9 candidates were informed about the results via e-mail. Tiffany Inabu was elected AS president, Michael Song for student trustee, and Chantelle Eastman for Vice President. To view the complete list of election results, visit the AS Web site link from SMC's homepage.

The whole election process began on Monday, March 22 when candidates were required to have all paperwork turned into the AS office. The write-in candidate deadline was the following Monday, March 29.

According to Christopher Uzunyan, election committee chair, the deadline was pushed from Monday, March 15 to Monday, March 22. He said that AS desired a lively competition but that many of the available spots had not been filled by candidates.

Two slates were developed, the Your Organized Underdog slate and the F.A.C.T.S. slate. Accompanying them on the ballot were independents such as Kayo Johnson for President and Kendal Blum for Director of Financial Support.

Although most candidates did not immediately begin publicizing, they were technically given from Thursday, March 25 through Thursday, April 8 to spread the word.

Tiffany Inabu spent her time running back and forth between campaigning and her existing responsibilities for AS. Vince Slevin spent time away from the elections to partake in CALPIRG activities and others could be seen studying on and off in the cafeteria, computers posed for any passing students willing to take the time to vote.

Polling booths were set up at two different locations on campus during the week of April 5, allowing students to vote during their down time. Incentives of free ice cream coupons were offered to anyone who participated and students entered in a raffle to win a laptop, gift cards and other prizes.

On Tuesday, April 6, AS hosted the presidential candidate debate between Kayo Johnson, Tiffany Inabu and Dona Davoodi, standing in for Eli Appel.

With roughly 50 students in attendance, the debate managed to catch the eye of some students, but failed at attracting most.

The final attempt to get people interested in the elections was candidate row, held Thursday, April 8, during the last day of the election. Candidates positioned themselves in the quad during activity hour, turned on some music and took their laptops directly to students to garner votes before the 4 p.m. deadline.

After polls closed at 11:59 p.m. later that day, it became clear that the majority of the student population had not voted.

When asked what he thinks is the main issue Uzunyan said, "That's a question I've been trying to answer myself. I think that for the most part there's a huge group of people that don't take enough classes to be interested."

Another reason students were uninformed, said Uzunyan, is that "the candidates didn't understand that they could start campaigning that Thursday [March 25]." I didn't see some of the independent candidates until the last minute."

Uzunyan blames the AS for the lack of event and candidate publicity, but also feels that students have a responsibility to inform themselves about what is going on around campus. "It's published information," said Uzunyan. "You've just got to take it in and process it."

Current AS president Cameron Henton admired the work put in by the candidates, sympathizing with their busy schedules. "They have personal lives and it's very tough to manage all of that," he said.