SMC's AS elections see steady decline in voters
This year also saw only 18 candidates, the lowest amount of candidates in comparison to other years; 2013 alone had 40 contenders in all, running for different positions.
“Because a lot more people ran [in other years]. Look at the number of people running and that’s why,” says Student Advisor Benny Blaydes. “When a lot of people are running and every position is contested, you’re gonna get a lot more people [voting].”
According to Blaydes, student voter turnout directly correlates to the amount of political activity going on in the area. “This year, we had a lot of other stuff students were involved in. We don’t have any major political stuff going on statewide,” he says. “When there’s more political activity and more statewide issues, students will feel the need to do something.”
The year that saw the highest voter turnout also saw the most contention among candidates and the looming threat of what was then popularly known among the general student population as a "two-tier" tuition plan. In 2011, a total of 3,767 students went to the AS polls to voice their support of candidates who each opposed the Board of Trustees' plans to create a tuition payment plan that would allow students to pay more for access to classes, similar to the model at UCLA Extension.
That same year saw a large number of election code complaints filed between candidates Harrison Wills and David Stavis.
Another possible cause of the low turnout could be that some other events took away from the focus. “The big thing in this year’s publicity is that it’s very easy to get overshadowed by bigger events like Consent Month,” said Inter-Club Council Chair Maya Kaitel in an interview prior to the results. “You’ll notice that, in the quad, there aren’t that many candidate posters but there’s a ton of Consent Month posters. This year, the publicity that [we did] is a little more small scale.”
Despite the low numbers in yearly comparison, several AS directors and Blaydes have pointed out that other schools see as little as 500 students voting in their respective student government elections. According to Blaydes, prior to the availability of electronic voting, SMC's AS shared similar lower voter turnout to those other schools.