For the first time in at least nine years, all ASU Undergraduate Student Government executive tickets are running uncontested in the upcoming election.
USG officials cited low student knowledge of what USG is, candidates failing to fill all three executive ticket positions and problems with previous elections as reasons why each campus saw so few applicants and low interest.
Preetham Myathari, the USG elections commissioner who oversees all four campuses, said the low number of candidates is happening because students are unfamiliar with what USG is.
"The present candidates are failing to tell the students about USG," said Myathari, a sophomore studying computer science. "Because of that, most people don't even know elections are going on."
Myathari said students didn't run on executive tickets because they couldn't find enough people to fill the needed positions. All executive tickets comprise three positions: president, vice president of service and vice president of policy.
"There were like three people who wanted to run their ticket, but they waited until the last deadline to find the right person," Myathari said. "It was very hard from them to find a candidate."
Joshua Narayana, assistant elections commissioner for the Downtown Phoenix campus, was nervous the campus wouldn't have an executive ticket at all.
"Honestly, I was glad to see when the executive ticket application did roll in," Narayana said. The one application for the Downtown Phoenix campus executive ticket came in toward the end of the application period.
Narayana, a junior studying health sciences, said last year's election was a reason students stayed away from running.
"Last year was kind of a mess," Narayana said. "I don't think people want to deal with that. It was kind of a tough year."
During a debate between the downtown executive tickets last year, an inappropriate question was asked about one of the candidates in the Vemuri ticket. The incident led Downtown Phoenix campus election commissioner Dawson Chute being asked to step down.
READ MORE: Assistant USGD elections commissioner resigns
There was also controversy among Tempe executive tickets last year. The winner for the campus was reversed after a recalculation. The elections commission incorrectly defined ranked choice voting in the 2021-22 Elections Code. It was first announced that the Hostal ticket won, then the winner was re-announced as the Hopkins ticket.
READ MORE: New USGT executive ticket winner declared after recalculation
Joshua Valenzuela, a junior studying politics and the economy, was the assistant USG elections commissioner for the Tempe campus last year. Valenzuela, who is advising the Kalthoff executive ticket on the Tempe campus on the election code, agrees with Narayana and sees the low number of candidates as a potential culture issue within USG.
"The climate of the elections, especially here in Tempe, has been really ugly the past two years and not even just at the executive level," Valenzuela said.
Valenzuela said a lot of "malicious complaints" were filed by USG candidates in the Associated Students of ASU Supreme Court, which the election team had to sift through last year. Candidates were "filing complaints just to bring down their enemies by points in disqualification," Valenzuela said.
Due to this "nasty, malicious election climate" and students coming back to the campus, Valenzuela said he would not be surprised if complaints and students returning decreased the number of candidates entering the race.
The lack of executive tickets across campuses will affect USG elections in other ways — Narayana said no debates and less campaigning will decrease awareness of USG elections, and there is likely to be low voter turnout.
"There isn't the sort of extra motivation for campaigning, which may make turnout a little tricker," Narayana said.
Still, with around 55,000 students enrolled on the Tempe campus and over 21,000 students enrolled on the other three metro Phoenix campuses combined as of fall 2021, the low number of candidates is not representative of ASU's large student population.
"Tempe is literally one of the biggest college campuses in America," Valenzuela said. "I would assume, given the sheer amount of students here there would be competitive elections almost every year, if not every year."
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Morgan Fischer is the politics editor, she works with her desk to cover topics related to politics in the ASU community. She has previously worked as an intern for RightThisMinute.