Student leaders centralize candidate platforms online

Congressional candidate Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, announced a bill that would provide a full tuition waiver to honorably discharged members of the armed services at any of the three state universities while serving as a member of the state Senate in February 2011. The undergraduate student governments recently launched a website tracking Sinema and other candidates’ views on education issues. (Photo by Michael Arellano)

ASU’s student governments started a website last week that compiles the political platforms of the more than 100 Arizona candidates that will be on the ballot in November.

ASUvotes2012.com is part of a University-wide, nonpartisan student government initiative to involve student voters and help them make informed voting decisions.

Counseling psychology graduate student German Cadenas, vice president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association, developed the idea for ASU Votes over the summer.

“If (students) had a stronger presence at the polls, legislators would take students more seriously,” Cadenas said.

He said he hopes the website will encourage students to investigate candidates’ characters and policies for themselves rather than relying on images projected by media and ad campaigns.

The website focuses specifically on candidates’ positions on higher education by providing links to their campaign websites.

Chemistry Ph.D. student Adam Monroe, a member of GPSA’s external affairs team, helped compile candidate information for the website.

“It’s about as easy as possible to view (candidate information),” Monroe said. “It’s easier then it’s ever been before.”

During the 2010 election, Monroe said he heard many students say they would like to vote but did not feel they were informed enough about the issues to contribute.

The website should take that excuse away from students and give them easy access to the information they need to make informed voting choices, Monroe said.

Cadenas said the ASU Votes team originally wanted to include personalized statements from the candidates themselves about higher education, but ran out of time.

The project did not have enough volunteers to individually contact every campaign and follow through to receive statements, Cadenas said.

The website went live last week, but will be officially launched in the next two weeks as the team of more than 40 volunteers advertises the project by hosting events, tabling and placing fliers around all four campuses.

The website also has information on how to register to vote and links to register online, as well as information on polling places and important election dates.

By Election Day on Nov. 6, Cadenas said they hope to reach an audience of 5,000 ASU students with the website.

Undergraduate Student Government West special events director Megan Patrick, a communications junior, said the West campus has already seen a positive response to the project.

During several campus events, USGW registered about 150 students to vote and received many inquiries about how to get more information about this year’s candidates, Patrick said.

She said it is important to be an informed voter because elected officials will directly affect future educational policies.

“Whoever we pick is going to influence us dramatically,” Patrick said.

Reach the reporter at tnhoman@asu.edu