Bright, colorful and informative fliers calling for students’ attention are sprouting up along frequently-traveled roads and walkways on campus this week, announcing the return of the annual ASI student government elections.

Though voting does not begin until May 3, candidates are not wasting any time in getting their faces noticed and their voices heard. Advertisements went up Monday all over campus, the candidates participated in a “Meet the Candidates” forum on Tuesday, and a candidates’ debate is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. in the University Union Plaza during UU Hour.

The forum gave students a chance to get to know the two candidates for ASI president: Todd Maki, from the College of Engineering, and Anne Giapapas, from the College of Agriculture. In a meet-and-greet-style session, the candidates highlighted their experience and past accomplishments, laid out their plans for the university’s future if elected and met with audience members. Issues discussed at the forum included Mardi Gras and co-sponsorship, two matters that will certainly come to the forefront of the winner’s presidency next year.

In all, John Azevedo, ASI elections committee chair for the Board of Directors, estimated that about 60 people attended the forum on Tuesday, and said he hopes to see even more attend the debate on Thursday.

“There weren’t as many as I expected there to be (at the forum),” he said. “We like to pull questions – from the audience in order to better address the students’ issues.”

Having more students present in the audience to voice their concerns helps create a more well-rounded representation of the student body’s wants and needs for the candidates, he said.

Candidates for the ASI Board of Directors will also join the two presidential hopefuls on the ballot. Numerous students from all of the colleges on campus are determined to win a seat on the board.

Unfortunately, voter turnout for the elections has been declining for the past few years. According to ASI’s “Vote: One Voice, 17,000 Strong” Web site, between 2003 and 2005, voter participation dropped 5.6 percent to a dismal 15 percent last year of the total Cal Poly population. ASI’s goal for this year’s election is to raise that number to 25 percent of the total university population.

The polls will be open on Wednesday and Thursday, May 3 and 4, at various locations on campus. From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on both days, polling places include the Ag bridge (near building 10), Fisher Science/Science North, the Kennedy Library and Campus Market will be open. From 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on both days in the Education building breezeway and downstairs in the UU will also be open for voting. Students will be asked for their student I.D. before they receive a ballot to cast their vote, so don’t forget it.

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