If you experience an election lasting longer than eight hours, please contact a doctor
Officials are cautiously touting the turnout for this semester’s University of Colorado Student Union elections, and they’ve got a good reason.
Compared to semesters past, the turnout wasn’t so bad this time.
Voter apathy has been near epidemic in recent student government elections. To put it another way: CU has a case of electile dysfunction.
We’ve got weakness in the poll.
Turnout at fall elections has hovered between 500 and 1,500 – paltry numbers compared to the approximate 30,000 undergraduate enrollments here. Apathy reached an all-time high in 2005 when just 739 people cast votes.
It’s been bad.
But this semester saw a turnaround in turnout, as the third highest number in history hit the polls. A little over 3,000 students, about 11 percent of the student population, voted in this semester’s election.
It’s well below the goal of 20 percent set by election officials, but there’s still reason to celebrate. This semester’s turnout is the highest UCSU has seen since 1990.
It’s a first step on the way to finally kicking our little election problem. If we can keep it up, CU might beat its electile dysfunction.
And that’s a hard task.
The ACTION ticket swept the UCSU at-large race, with RiSE at a close second. And despite its help from colored water vendor Vitaminwater, BUFFS finished last.
Among the candidates, just two votes separated ACTION’s Blaine Pellicore, who was elected, and RiSE’s Medhat Ahmed, who was not.
If two guys lifting weights in the Rec Center and the person spotting them voted for Ahmed, they could’ve swung the election. The residents of a single dorm room could’ve made it so there was a dissenting vote among the representatives at-large, and could’ve held ACTION from taking a complete majority.
It shows the influence a single student can wield on his or her student government.
Candidates don’t need to invest tons and tons of money into spreading a message, and they certainly don’t need a sponsorship partnership with a major beverage company. They just need to reach at least 1,600 people.
For voters, their power grows with every student that doesn’t vote.
Those who choose to vote can make a significant impact in choosing the candidate that supports their ideals: whether it is improving the partnership between Greeks and the university, more capital construction projects or cutting student fees.
Two votes made the difference this year. It shows that voting isn’t worthless, and it shows that students are not powerless when trying to change their university.
Hopefully more people will see this next semester, and hopefully more of the student body will be more proactive in selecting its government.
Let’s kick this electile dysfunction.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Justin Coons at firstname.lastname@example.org