Student voting in AS election lowest turnout in five years

Final numbers reported for Sonoma State University Associated Students 2018 Elections show voter turnout was  the lowest it’s been in the past five years. 

The official count showed 1,019 students cast ballots this  year, 11.79 percent of the total student population, compared to 24.75 percent that voted in 2017.  

Electoral competitiveness and campaign efforts affect voter turnout rates. 

“It’s a pretty simple formula,” said Associated Students Executive Director Erik Dickson. “The more campaigning there is, the more students vote.” 

According to President elect Manny Ojeda, this year’s candidates a more hands-on approach and a non-competitive approach.

I really wanted the student body to understand why I was running for AS President and part of that was speaking about my experiences with CAPS,” said Ojeda: “Also, Trevor and I made it an effort to stay away from any competitiveness behavior, we wanted to set an example of how to campaign and behave properly as opponents.”

In 2017, 2,205 students voted. Wilson credits his victory to the work he did before the election such as speaking to at least three classes, clubs or teams every day. 

“The campus needs to take seriously its commitment to civic engagement, and not just for AS elections,” Dickson said. “We need to commit to leading the CSU in voting in student, statewide and national elections. Everyone can do more.”

AS provides funding resources to chartered student clubs and organizations, club accounting services, short-term loans and transitional housing for students.

“One improvement that I want to make is making AS much more visible to the campus. More student awareness will likely bring more active voter participation,” Ojeda said. “I hope that more students will see AS’s commitment to the student body and we’ll see much more involvement next year.” 

AS is the recognized voice of the students on campus and with the administration that takes AS concerns seriously, Dickson said. 

“We’re the voice at the table for the student population,” Christina Gamboa, current senator for undeclared students and vice president of finance-elect, said. 

Six AS positions remain open, as no student ran for them. Due to the vacancies, run-off elections for the senators of School of Business and Economics, School of Education, Community Affairs, Involvement and Undeclared will be held on April 30 and May 1. 

“This is the opportunity for the students to show that they care and they want the university to know that students have a voice,” Dickson said.