Should more students be voting?

Kara Christensen

Kara Christensen

Voter turnout in the Students’ Association elections last month was akin to one in five students, but some say that isn’t as bad as it sounds.

“I think 20 percent is a remarkably high turnout. Student government elections in most parts of the country typically get three to five percent of the students to turnout. SDSU students should be proud of their higher participation than most,” said Gary Aguiar, political science professor.

Eric Erickson, new SA president, is also pleased with the voter turnout.

“It was actually pretty good,” he said.

Yet does SA’s authority go down when so few students turn up to vote?

“Low turnout means that the SA voice may not be legitimate, may not actually represent the views of the student body,” Del Lonowski, political science professor, said.

If SA candidates were organized by campus political parties with platforms based on campus issues, student voters would have a clear choice between alternatives, Lonowski said.

Right now, students may not vote if they don’t know the candidate, he said.

Erickson said he and other SA officials get student input in other ways. For example, they visit busy campus spots on daily “people’s walks.”

“We try to get everyone’s input on the issues, not just on election day,” Erickson said.

Dan Hansen, outgoing SA president, said the low turnout may be due to voter apathy, especially because many of the important issues SA faces – such as moving to Division I athletics, a student union expansion, and Residence Hall space – are futuristic.

“Since it doesn’t really affect them, a lot of people may see it as not really important,” Hansen said.

Bob Burns, political science department head, said that local elections typically garner less attention, and that the 18 to 24 age group has the lowest level of voter turnout nationwide.

“It has much do with cultivating a sense of civic obligation as we mature and doing that which matters most to you at the time,” Burns said.