Please sir, can I get another vote?

The polls for the ASPSU election opened this week. But if history repeats itself, it will be more of a sprinkling than a flood of students running to the polls to vote for their favorite candidates this year.

The polls for the ASPSU election opened this week. But if history repeats itself, it will be more of a sprinkling than a flood of students running to the polls to vote for their favorite candidates this year.

Since the elected student body is often a lobbying force to improve their fellow student’s education and are responsible for over $13 million of students’ money via the Student Fee Committee—just to name a couple duties—it begs the question: Where are all the voters?

Lack of outreach, time, and perceived relevancy might be behind the missing voters.

A look back at the last few years of ASPSU elections reveals a trend of less than stellar results. In 2004, 1,999 of 19,771 PSU students voted. 2005 had the highest voter turnout of the last five years with 2,432 of 24,015 students voting, bringing the percent of voters to 10 percent.

In 2006, the voting portion of the student body dropped to 7 percent, with only 1,672 of 24,284 students voting. The next year, 8 percent of the student body voted, just 1,909 of 24,999 students. Last year’s election was the poorest turnout, with 1,447 of 26,587 students voting, or just 5 percent of the student population.

The nature of Portland State being a commuter school may be a significant factor for the lack of voters at the poll, some familiar with student government said.

“There are issues that are particular to PSU. We have a population of students that’s more part time, we have a population that live less on campus,” said ASPSU intern Sean Rains.

One example is Portland State student Jackie S., who is taking only one class, and says that being a part-time student is the main reason why she isn’t voting this election and, “hasn’t been super-involved” in elections.

The former student of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, says she has seen less enthusiasm in student politics here than at RPI.

“People in fraternities would often run [at RPI], so there would be these intense competitions between fraternities,” she said.

Time and priority might be a different reason to blame for missing voters.

“I think a lot of people have to really research the issues and most people don’t want to give up that much free time for that,” freshman Sam Newson said.

Based on historical evidence, he is one of the few students who will be voting this year, after being “assaulted” in the park blocks by “student government minions” and given a campaign flier.

“But to their defense, that’s pretty much what they have to do to get people’s attention,”
Newson said.

According to others, candidates have to do more “assaulting” of potential voters to get the word out about student elections and to convince them that what ASPSU does is important.

“Engaging the student body in the process, can be one of the most frustrating thing in the world,” said ASPSU Vice President Kyle Cady.

But he says that that engagement is essential to get people to care.

“It’s very easy for students to accept the cost of the their education, the fact that they might have to wait in line a long time to see an advisor and they might not even get the classes they want,” Cady said, adding that it is the responsibility of the candidates to show students that their education can be improved.

Some students questioned why students would run for student government.

“Maybe it’s just because it’s such a commuter school. Because people think the president has no real power … that it’s just a resume builder,” Ari Werthamer said, speculating why there is such low voter turnout.
Werthhamer, who hasn’t voted in the past, said he will this year.

“I didn’t hear about it ’til I went on Banweb,” said senior Tanya Pugh, adding that she is not voting this year. “I just have so much going on with graduation that I don’t have time.”

Sophomore Angela Bolanos, who also isn’t voting this year, said that student government is suffering from lack of advertising.

“I don’t think it’s very well publicized,” Bolanos said, who said she thinks to attract more voters ASPSU needs to take advantage of the technology they have. “I just hope that they have a different way of presenting the issues. Maybe a video for those who are more visual.”

How well have the candidates really done in getting the vote out this year? Find out next Tuesday when election results are released.