Your vote counts in ASU student government elections

The conclusion of spring break has brought a sudden infusion of color to the Tempe campus, though Arizona’s ephemeral spring season is hardly to blame. With elections to various student government positions around the corner, the campus has been transformed into a veritable smorgasbord of campaign posters and election slogans.

With one of the highest enrollment levels in the country, ASU has a pressing need for a representative student government. The key to any democratic election lies in the voter turnout numbers — and this is where one of the largest student populations in the country falls woefully short. In last year’s Undergraduate Student Government presidential election, 3,500 students voted, said Scott Tippett, election director of Associated Students for Arizona State University. Less than 10 percent of undergraduate students at the Tempe campus put their vote to use.

These are not good numbers; to put them into perspective, our voter turnout is less than half that of Mali, the country with the lowest average voter turnout (according to a report by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance). And it isn’t even like we have to go all the way to Timbuktu to vote. Eligible students can vote from the comfort of their home, classroom or wherever else they wish, via myASU. The University is trying to make this job even easier, with an easy Web address that students can use to cast that all-important vote: www.asu.edu/votenow.

In a fragmented race such as this year’s presidential election, the cliché of every vote making a difference is the norm. In e-mails, several candidates in the running this year said they were fully aware of this fact, and realize the importance of a healthy voter turnout. They also had interesting insights to offer on voter turnout, things that impede it, and ways to increase it — a much-lamented phenomenon was the tendency to focus on voter numbers only in the two weeks leading up to each election.

The ASU election code — parts of which prevent campaigning in places like the Computing Commons and Memorial Union — was also mentioned as a possible impediment to candidates’ efforts to reach out to students. However, the election code is in place for a reason, and the candidates also recognize that the University is doing all it can within the existing framework to promote student awareness about the elections, like promoting the elections on myASU.

Ultimately, we all end up with the government we voted for — or didn’t. Higher turnout lends more credence to the efforts of elected officials, gets more students involved in decision making and focuses student government on the issues that truly matter to students: tuition, transparency or just the establishment of a fall break. This April 6, make your vote count.

Kartik is going to vote from bed, just to prove that it can be done. Mail your disapproval to kartikt@asu.edu


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