SF State students are concerned with this year's presidential election. So much so that other issues like ranked-choice voting and local ballot propositions are not priorities.
Many are not sure how this election's voting process will work, and the local propositions and measure that are on the ballots are being ignored. Most students don't have the time to read them over and they say media coverage of these issues doesn't reach out to them.
“I honestly do not know anything about [ranked-choice voting],” said Andrea Deleon, 19, an environmental studies major. She said she has received some information about it in the mail, but has not had the time to read it over.
“When you are a college student you don’t have time,” Deleon said, “[and] it takes time to learn both sides of a proposition.”
“I haven’t read it yet,” said Debbie Djavaheri, 23, about the new ranked-choice voting system that will be used in San Francisco. “Maybe I’ll do it the day before, and I don’t think it will be too complicated,” said the speech communications major. She also said local newspapers covered the presidential race more often than the local issues.
San Franciscans approved the ranked-choice voting system in March 2002, and this Nov. 2 election voters will use the system for the first time to vote for supervisors in seven districts.
In the ranked-choice voting system, sample ballots show three columns with each representing the names of the candidates for supervisors. Voters mark their first choice in column one, their second choice in column two and their third choice in column three.
If no first choice candidate received the majority of the votes, the one with the fewest votes is eliminated from the race and his votes pass on to the voter's next choice.
If by then nobody gets a majority of the votes, the process continues until one candidate emerges with a majority, avoiding a run-off election.
“I think it is a good idea to be able to vote for more than one candidate as they do in Europe,” said Katrina Yeaw, 20, an international relations major and member of the Socialist's International Organization. She said it is not really as complicated as it sounds.
Creative writing major Khim Myrick , 21, said it was a good idea and "it takes away the complication of having a run-off election.”
Students who did not know about the new voting system in San Francisco also had little knowledge of the 14 propositions, plus Measure AA, the BART general obligation bond.
“I actually haven’t done any research yet,” said Jimmy Mai, 20, an undeclared major, referring to the local propositions. “They haven’t advertised anything except for the casinos,” he said with reference to Propositions 68 and 70 that would expand and create more casinos in the East Bay, which pits Indian tribes against non-Indian gambling institutions.
Mai said local newspapers should focus on local issues too. “We probably care more about what happens in San Francisco than in San Pablo,” Mai said.
Neha Shah, 19, a marketing major, said she did not know anything about the propositions either. “Honestly,” she said, “All I care about is Bush and Kerry.”
“I don’t know a lot,” said Becky McAllister when asked about the local propositions. “I’ve been focus on the national election,” she said, “but I am going to educate myself before I vote.”
Many students said the sample ballot should be worded more simply and precisely.
Emil Velasquez, 20, a molecular biology major has paid attention to Proposition A that is billed as “Affordable housing bonds.”
“I live in an apartment and it is too expensive,” Velasquez said, “and I want this proposition to pass to offer lower rents in San Francisco.”
Brandon Yacobellis, 22, a physics major, is considered Proposition F, which would allow non-citizen parents to vote in school board elections.
“Their children are at school,” said Yacobellis of the immigrant parents, “and they should have their say of what their children are doing.”
SF State students’ interest in the national election is a common attitude among college students nationwide, according to a study released Oct. 21 by Harvard University's Institute of Politics. The report suggests, “Nationally college students have an exceptionally high interest in the presidential campaign.”
Tammy Tien, 21, a BECA major, said she has not had time to get information about the local propositions; all that she is concerned about is the outcome of the presidential election. “If Bush gets reelected,” she said, “I want them to be the fastest four years of my life.”