As voting for the 2019 ASUC elections begins, many students remain uninformed about specific ASUC candidates and their platforms, according to voters and ASUC campaigners.
Multiple students tabling for ASUC candidates on Sproul Plaza reported that students they interacted with were generally not informed but willing to learn more about candidates after speaking to those campaigning. Campus freshman Eamon Smith, who was tabling for executive vice president candidate Andy Theocharous, described students as “very willing to become more informed.”
Campus freshman Saran Uthayakumar, who was campaigning for student advocate candidate Nava Bearson, said some uniformed students were also wary of voting because they felt they did not know enough about the candidates.
“A lot of people seem a bit more reluctant — at least the ones that I’ve spoken to on Sproul — on voting because they feel like they’re not informed enough,” Uthayakumar said. “Overall, students, once they hear a little more about it, they’re much more enthusiastic about voting and turning out.”
ASUC Elections Council chair Shirin Moti acknowledged a “general unawareness among the student body” on where to find information about candidates but added that both the council and the ASUC communications office were working to disseminate more information about the elections.
Candidates are also attempting to encourage more students to vote, in part through advertisements and Facebook posts. The ASUC has provided information about all of the candidates and their platforms in its official voter information guide, which can be found on the ASUC website, according to Moti.
“The majority of students don’t have a lot of information, which is why we provide the voter information guide,” Moti said. “At the end of the day, the school is very large — there’s 40,000 students, and it’s difficult to inform each and every one of them.”
Campus senior and transfer student Ronan Braun voted in this year’s elections specifically to vote on the Transfer Remedy Act referendum, which would establish a permanent ASUC transfer student representative. Braun said he was “quite uninformed” about the elections but found the information online relatively helpful.
Other students who voted said they also were able to find information about specific candidates or referendums online but remained uninformed about the candidates overall. Campus freshman Andrew Cheng said that while he was informed about a couple candidates, he did not know a lot about the other people running.
For those who are unable to vote online through CalLink, there are also two physical polling locations: in 412 Eshleman Hall and on the first floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union. Moti said in an email that students who have questions about voting can also ask election officials at the polling places.
External Affairs Vice President Nuha Khalfay said in an email that while her office does not have any programs specifically related to ASUC elections turnout, it has previously engaged in efforts to increase the number of students voting in local and national elections.
Among other projects, Khalfay secured the location for a polling place in the student union during the 2018 fall elections and worked with the campus before the elections to encourage students to register to vote.
“We registered around 2,056 students to vote,” Khalfay said in an email. “Many students were already registered and we were able to provide them with resources such as the ballot drop box and non partisan voter guide. In addition to registering many students to vote we were also able to help create a culture in which voting was not only accessible and easy but also fun.”