A.S. candidates campaign to increase voter turnout

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Associated Students candidates continued campaigning yesterday as students cast their votes.

Although voter turnout has been very low during past elections, A.S. Director of Elections, Brian Flores, said voter turnout seemed to be going well in this election.

The election began Tuesday and will continue until 7 p.m. tonight.

Presidential and vice presidential candidates, Zachary Bates and Ana Matijasevic, Chad Charton and Safa Sajadi, and Enrique Galan and Peter Gallego, passed out flyers and solicited votes, letting students know about their wide range of goals for the 2005-06 positions.

Ballots, numbered at 500, according to Flores, ran out at the polling place near the Sierra Quad.

Flores said he is expecting a big turnout for the election, but voter turnout perceptions are preliminary, and the number of voters will not be known until later this week.

“There’s pretty much a candidate for everybody, (and) that’s why I think there’s going to be a big turnout,” Flores said.

Voter turnout in past A.S. elections was very low.

“I think A.S. isn’t known,” said Bates, who is running for A.S. president. “I think it’s a lack of care by the students.”

Bates said students are being affected more by various budget issues.

“Obviously, there’s a demand that people want to see things (changed),” Bates said.

Bates said he and his vice presidential running mate, Matijasevic, will focus on promoting events on campus.

There were other issues on the ballot, including the Klotz Student Health Center fee referendum to increase the current $30 student health fee by an initial $20, and an additional dollar each semester until 2015-16, in order to keep the center fully operating.

Besides the A.S. presidential and vice presidential positions, students will also vote on 13 A.S. senate seats, five seats for the University Student Union Board of Directors and the Homecoming king, queen, prince and princess.

Omar Sanchez, junior electrical engineering major, said he voted “no” on the referendum.

“I don’t see how the health services, mainly for me, is helpful,” Sanchez said.

Charton, who is also running for president alongside vice presidential candidate Sajadi, said he and his running mate plan to appeal to a wide variety of students on campus.

“I’m very, very pleased,” Charton said about the voter turnout. “I’m hopeful that the voter turnout is going to be substantially higher.”

Charton said he is opposed to appealing to certain demographics, and prefers to appeal to the complete student body.

“I have no personal agenda, nor a demographic agenda,” Charton said. “I feel that’s happening this year with my opponents.”

There are a lot of misperceptions and rumors that candidates who are running for president and vice president will give certain organizations more money and preferential treatment, Charton said.

“There really isn’t an agenda here, and that’s reflective from our slate,” Sajadi said.

Charton said he and Sajadi plan on making A.S. more efficient, fun and important to students.

Presidential and vice presidential candidates Galan and Gallego were unavailable for comment.

Ballots will be counted Wednesday and Thursday night, and results for the election will be posted on the front doors at the University Student Union A.S. office and on the trailer behind the Performing Arts Center.