Voter turnout in Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Student Government elections has been increasing over the past 10 years but took a sharp turn this year with only 14.7 percent of Cal Poly students voting, according to an ASI press release. Comparatively 30.4 percent of students voted in last year’s elections.
ASI Recruitment and Elections Committee chair Maggie Cheung said the lower voter turnout rate likely has to do with a different campus climate than last year.
“In the midst of the election [last year] was the whole [blackface] incident, during Spring quarter,” Cheung said. “People are still coming off of that, and it’s kind of just been a quiet campus overall.”
Environmental management and protection junior Mark Borges won the 2019-2020 presidential election by a landslide with 1,941 votes. Communication studies sophomore Henry Broback received 430 votes, and journalism freshman Alex Bires received 360 votes.
Percent of Student Body that Voted
Cheung added that this year’s election also saw less use of print material to campaign, as many candidates instead used predominantly digital platforms such as social media and websites. For example, one of the pillars of Broback’s campaign was zero waste; his campaign was completely digital with no use of flyers or signs.
In total, 3,055 students of the more than 21,000 students attending Cal Poly voted through their student portal during the 24-hour voting period from Wednesday, April 24 at 9 a.m. to Thursday, April 25 at 9 a.m., according to the news release. Of the students that voted, only 2,731 students voted for ASI president.
Cheung said another reason for the low voter turnout may have had to do with how there was little to no competition for ASI Board of Directors in the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, the Orfalea College of Business and the College of Science and Mathematics.
“For three of the colleges there was less competition, so there wasn’t a need to vote,” Cheung said.
In the past ten years, voter turnout has not dropped below 21 percent of students, with the highest turnout during the 2013-2014 elections at 39.2 percent.
Moving forward, Cheung said ASI will be addressing how to increase voter turnout so more students vote next year.
“The Board of Directors and the ASI President work very closely with campus administrators and a lot of entities on campus to represent students as a whole,” Cheung said. “It’s important students are electing leaders that they trust to take these positions and represent them in the best capacity.”