I’m just going to get this out of the way: who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to have a 14 question ASUN ballot, with only three questions related to actual voting? For at least the second year in a row, the online ballot contains more questions about ASUN programs and how they heard about the elections rather than actual elections of candidates or ballot initiatives.
What is ASUN’s goal in putting excessive non-election questions on the ballot? Negative turnout? More candidates than voters? In 2015, the turnout was at 19.7 percent, still offensively pitiful, but a then- high point this millennium. 2016, when I first remembered seeing a bloated ballot, the turnout dropped to a Chris Christie pathetic level of 13.4 percent. In that year, with an overreaching ballot, less than 1 in 7 students voted. Now, we’re at a record 22.4 percent, still numbingly grotesque when we can’t get one in four to vote.
Now, I’m not here to say why someone should vote. After all the student engagement campaigns ASUN puts on, as well as general civic classes and lessons, the reasons why you should vote should already be evident. If not, then your head is so far up your rear that you have become a half-man/half-doughnut hybrid in need of serious extraction. This editorial is about how ASUN should restrain themselves from having an excessive ballot.
The state and local government gets it right, they only put questions on a ballot that elects someone, enacts policy, or amends the constitution.Their ballots don’t have space for people to write about their favorite representative, like ASUN does with its Professor of the Year questions. Their ballot doesn’t ask about how you hear about the Government, like ASUN does. Their ballot doesn’t ask about what services you use, like ASUN does. Their ballot doesn’t ask about your living situation, like ASUN does. When we go into the voting booth every other June and November, we vote for people like Trump or Clinton, not whether or not we’ve been to the DMV!
Why is having an excessive ballot an issue? Two reasons: sticker shock and inappropriateness. If a student, especially a freshman, sees the monster ballot, they would probably assume that they have to answer all 14 questions; especially because there isn’t any statement that the non-election questions are optional. Imagine yourself in such a situation, and saw a 14 question ballot and assuming you had to answer everything, including the essay parts, wouldn’t you be tempted to just walk away, considering your other obligations like class, work, and personal care? A limited, no-more-than-necessary ballot would probably increase turnout better than ASUN’s current scheme of threatening to withhold concert information because voting would be simple and quick.
Also, this University has many other opportunities to gauge student reaction to ASUN initiatives. I’ll give you some ideas: the University Scholarship Form, Supplemental Forms on MyNevada, Focus Groups, and Course Evaluations. Personally, Course Evaluations would be the best idea since we’re already evaluating our professors, we could evaluate our student government in the same place. Putting such questions on a ballot is ridiculous because there are other, more appropriate means of doing so. Then there is an additional layer of severability so that people who want to either vote or discuss ASUN programs only can do so easily. Plus, if students want to register their displeasure with ASUN programs, they can already contact their Senator, the President, Vice President, or other representatives. Motivated students can also organize and petition students and representatives to enact change.
As states like Oregon, Washington, and Colorado have proven, the best way to increase turnout is to make voting as easy and accessible as possible. If ASUN is serious about reaching 25 percent turnout, the first step they must take is to restrict the ballot to questions of actual elections and ballot initiatives.