The Fall 2005 Associated Students election, held Oct. 25 and 26, was the center of discussion at the organization’s senate meeting on Nov. 1 as members discussed low voter turnout.
Although the total count of voters in the election has not been officially established yet, the number was about 600 students, according to A.S. President Chad Charton.
“I am not pleased at this election turnout,” Charton said. “I feel it is a complete mockery of this organization.”
As of Nov. 1, all votes had been counted and no objections or complaints to the results were submitted, according to A.S. Vice President Safa Sajadi.
The Senate was unable to vote to accept the results, as they had not yet been officially drafted and signed by A.S. Elections Advisor Jamison Keller. The official, signed results were expected from Keller on Nov. 2, Sajadi said.
The unofficial results show that all three referendums, as originally drafted by former A.S. Attorney General Hamid Jahangard, did pass.
“How do we credit the passing of these (referendums) with only 600 votes?” Charton said.
Interviews at polling stations in front of the Matador Bookstore Complex and near the Sierra Quad revealed that many voters were unsure of who or what they were voting for until they were inside the tent with ballot in hand.
When asked why he was voting, second-year political science major Miguel Segura replied, “Chad made me,” referring to President Charton, who, coincidently, was stopping by the polling station at the time.
Segura was not reluctant in admitting that he voted on the referenda without even reading them, citing a lack of time.
Election poll worker Erin Madrid cited a list of excuses and methods students use in order to avoid voting when they pass by the polling station, the most popular excuse being “I have to go to class,” Madrid said.
Some students respond with a blank stare, others pick up their cell phones and pretend to look busy, while the rest just totally ignore her, she said.
“Voter turnout was alright, but I’m hoping next spring it will be a lot better,” Sajadi said.
Typically, voter turnout is higher during spring elections because the A.S. president and vice president positions are up for election.
Competition is greater and the candidates tend to campaign more actively, elements that were lacking in the fall elections, according to A.S. University Advisor Tom Piernik.
Although almost all of the candidates in this fall’s elections were running unopposed, some did make an effort to promote themselves.
“It was interesting to hear what students had to say about elections,” said Rachel Bentley, Lower Division Senator candidate. “Most of them didn’t know elections were going on.”
According to Sajadi, the two candidates who were running for the College of Science and Mathematics II Senate seat, Bina Pai and Nadia Souri, were seen campaigning Oct. 26 near the science buildings.
Natalie Nakashian, unopposed candidate for a College of Business and Economics Senate seat, said she was working hard to get her name out during the week of elections.
“It’s hard to get students from point A to point B to vote,” she said. “Students are lazy.”
The low turnout for elections prompted both president Charton and vice president Sajadi to encourage senators to participate in the Elections Committee meetings that take place on Wednesdays to discuss concerns with the current elections process and what possible changes might be made to improve it.
In addition to voicing his discontent with elections, Charton took the time to remind senators that two CSU Board of Trustees members, Craig Smith and Raymond Holdsworth, will be on campus Nov. 4 to meet with the Faculty Senate as well as any interested A.S. members.
According to Sajadi, both she and Charton plan to meet with the board members, and continuing increases in student fees in the CSU due to the compact between Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and CSU Chancellor Charles Reed will be a main focus of discussions.
Charton urged senators to attend the meeting and to prepare questions for the trustees. A.S. General Manager David Crandall commented about the importance of the meeting.
“To forgo that opportunity would be a tragic waste in my opinion,” Crandall said.
The meeting between A.S. and the trustees is scheduled for Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m., and according to Sajadi, students are welcome to join as long as they give prior notice to an A.S. member so space concerns may be addressed.
Michael Salseda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.