Write-in candidates step up in A.S. election

Liana Hofer

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A.S. closed their two-day voting polls Wednesday night, in what turned out to largely be an election of write-ins.

While there were 11 Senate seats available to be filled, only three (Lower Division, Upper Division, and Social & Behavioral Sciences) had candidates running for office this term.

Raunika Nayyar,  A.S. director of elections, said the scarce number of senate candidates were because students do not want to commit to such a big responsibility.

“The Senate is not easy work,” Nayyar said.  “Because they’re working with school money, they have to pay attention, and a student who’s only here a few days a week can’t do that.”

Although there was only one candidate running for the Upper Division seat, the other four candidates shared very close races.  The positions for Lower Division and Social & Behavioral Sciences were decided with less than a 15-vote margin.

Three positions, the Science & Math, Engineering & Computer Sciences, and Humanities, benefited from write-in votes, in which candidates must have at least 10 percent of the total write-in votes to be eligible.

With a total number of 2,023 votes, this election also set a record for the most student participation in a CSUN Fall election since 1994, said Dan Monteleone, A.S. assistant director of elections.

“The turn out has been significant,” Monteleone said.  “This year’s second day was better than last year’s second day.”

Monteleone said the reason for the spike in voting numbers this year was due to the two e-mail reminders that were sent to students.

Students took advantage of the online voting option offered to them, while others visited the on-campus polling booths, located on the Oviatt Lawn and Plaza del Sol.

Yet despite the increased number of voters this term, the votes in relation to the total student population was staggeringly low.

“There is a lack of school spirit here,” Nayyar said. “It’s a commuter school, so people come for three classes and then leave. Students aren’t engaged.”

Many students felt they were not adequately informed on the election, and opted to forgo voting for candidates they did not know anything about. Amanda Wijemanne, 21, was one of those students.

“I don’t know anything about who is running,” said Wijemanne, a junior in business management.  “I’d just be voting on looks.”

Others, such as Anastasia Lazareva, 26, felt the elections were not worth the time or effort of voting.

“I don’t know if that would make a difference in my life,” said Lazareva, an accounting senior, when asked why she decided not to vote.

Among the more than 2,000 voters was Larry Shoemaker, 24, who said he only knew about the elections because of the e-mails, and made it a point to participate.

“It’s my school, it’s my money being spent,” said Shoemaker, a junior urban planning major.  “The senators are responsible for their governance, and it’s my responsibility that they know my needs as a student.”

Shoemaker said he was initially confused by the online voting, and seemed more astounded at the lack of flyers drawing attention to the elections.  He said there was plenty of publicity surrounding the Big Show, but only a couple of e-mails to inform students of voting options.

Besides the senate seats up for grabs, there was also other ballot issues to be voted on, such as the repeal of the amendment regarding senate GPA.  The referendum, which would have allowed those running for A.S. senate to qualify with a 2.0 GPA or above, lost in favor of keeping the requirement at 2.5.