Low turnout in student elections

Sonoma State University’s Associated Students 2019 Elections voter turnout hit an all-time low with only 4.98 percent of the student population to vote for this year’s new AS president.

“Unfortunately, low voter turnout is a trend across the CSU system and nationwide,” Student Government Coordinator Libia Castro said. “Sonoma’s voting numbers are actually at the standard that other CSUs have reported in the past few years. As to why, that’s a question that I spend time trying to figure out everyday.”

Many speculate that voter turnout improves when they have a strong reason to vote and overtime people become apathetic when they feel as though everything is okay based on the status quo.

In this 2019 AS presidential election, only 459 students out of Sonoma State University’s 9,201 student population voted.

Last year’s 2018 Associated Students Election had an 11.79 percent voter turnout and 2017 had a more than doubled turnout, with 24.75 percent of the student population to vote.

These numbers could be decreasing because students are satisfied with the way things are, or perhaps students do not feel as though their votes will make a difference in their lives here at Sonoma State University.

Holly Witcraft, a sophomore pre-nursing student at Sonoma State, said, “I did not vote, because I do not understand what they really do. I don’t really feel like they have much say when it comes to this school. When students speak up here on campus they get ignored.”

“I did not realize we even had student elections on campus,” said Isaac Florez, a junior computer science major. “I have been too busy trying to balance school and work.”

The Associated Student Board is in charge of managing student life issues, seeking student opinions, and representing the student body of Sonoma State University. 

Some of the programs the Associated Students are involved in include Join Us In Making Progress (JUMP), Associated Student Progress (ASP), and early childhood education and development.

The Associated Student Board also provides funding resources for students clubs and organizations, offers transitional housing, and supplies short-term loans for Sonoma State University students.

Newly-elected AS President Breana Archie wants to achieve a goal of adding diversity to Sonoma State campus and, therefore, making the university more inclusive to all current and future students.

“The tactics that I used to incentivize people to vote for me was definitely social media and relying on the connections I made here, such as different staff or faculty and programs in order to spread the word about the election,” said Archie. “Also I do outreach when tabling in order to spread the word.”

Archie then proceeded with a possible solution for student engagement and participation in voting. “I believe a few ways we can improve voter turnout is to maybe make elections look and sound interesting. Maybe we have to think outside of the box and be really creative in order to make it exciting.” 

Archie also has a strong conviction that the Associated Students should make their presence well-known on campus in order to build relationships and connections. Therefore, allowing the students to receive a better insight on what they represent and what changes they can work towards in order to satisfy the student population.

All Associated Student meetings are open to the public and their agendas are accessible to university students through the Sonoma State University website.