Dearth of candidates running in upcoming student election
March 13, 2008 10:38 AM
Low voter turnout usually dogs student government elections at SF State, but it’s a shortage of candidates that may define next week’s election.
Half of all class and college representative seats are vacant, meaning that no candidates are running for those eight seats.
“Those seats are vacant— that’s just the way it is,” said Horace Montgomery, acting as Associated Students Inc.’s direct supervisor of the election commissioner. He said the ballots have been finalized and created.
At this point, vacancies could be filled by write-in candidates. In the event that no eligible write-ins surface, the seats would be filled by appointment of the ASI governing board or left vacant.
It is not uncommon for seats to have vacancies, Montgomery said. But he’s never known there to be so many for a given election.
“During the last election, five people were running for [College of] Science and Engineering representative,” Montgomery said. “This year we have one.”
Of the 16 official candidates in next week’s election, eight are running unopposed.
“I’m really taken aback that there’s so little participation,” said Chris Oropeza, ASI vice president of university affairs. “If Associated Students is claiming that they represent the student body, they can’t really do it with a quorum of six.”
Oropeza ends his term this semester, but he will draft what he called a “transition letter” to incoming board members and will strongly recommend appointees be found for vacant seats as soon as possible.
He is particularly concerned that graduate and senior class representative positions are vacant. In the past, Oropeza said, these seats have been especially valuable to the board because older students tend to bring a broader experience to the table.
Election organizers hope to address low voter turnout with a Web-based voting system, newly implemented for next week’s election. Students will have all-hour access to vote during the week of March 17 through 21 at https://eballot3.votenet.com/sfsu.
But solving the problem of low candidate participation might be more complex. Oropeza noted that the current board lost some authority because members didn’t show up for regular meetings with SF State President Robert A. Corrigan.
He stressed the importance of new board members not making the same mistake.
“It’s about having some accountability,” Oropeza said. “If you sign up for this, you have to represent.”
SF State students pay $42 a semester in fees to support student government.
ASI’s operating budget for 2007-08 was over $3 million. In part, that money funds student organizations, scholarships, administration of the student health plan and numerous programs, projects and resource centers.
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