Less than 7.5% of UC Irvine’s undergraduate population voted in ASUCI’s recent spring election, creating the lowest recorded voter turnout in ASUCI history since ASUCI began using online voting in 1999.
According to the official Student Government Elections page, 7.419% of UCI’s 30,382 enrolled undergraduates cast votes from April 12 to April 16, totaling at 2,012 voters.
This is less than half the voter turnout of last year’s ASUCI spring 2020 election, which saw 4,450 voters. ASUCI hasn’t experienced such low voter turnout since the spring election in 2018, which only saw 2,239 voters.
According to ASUCI Elections Commissioner and former 2019-2020 Student Body President Randy Yan, the low voter turnout is not simply a result of the pandemic but can be attributed to multiple pre-existing factors.
“This hasn’t been just a one year thing, this has been building up the past few years leading up to this point where we are combined with the pandemic and more than half the school not really knowing what ASUCI is,” Yan told the New University.
Yan said that one of the largest challenges the ASUCI Elections met this year was reaching freshmen and transfer students who weren’t familiar with the student government. He attributed one factor of the low turnout in voters to the lack of interest in and knowledge about student government from this large portion of the undergraduate population.
“A lot of students vote in the ASUCI Elections because they understand [the elections], their student government and the candidates that they are voting for. Since first years haven’t had the experience of the events that ASUCI puts on, or been on campus and know about the politics of ASUCI, it was pretty difficult to try and get them to vote,” Yan said.
He noted a lack of transparency from ASUCI to the student population as another contributing factor to the lack of election interest this spring.
“I think overall, we as ASUCI, haven’t been conveying our message to the students as well. We haven’t been as transparent as a student government about what we do, who we are and why we are here. A lot of students don’t even know they have a student government and that is a big issue,” Yan said. “A lot of students on campus also just don’t care about ASUCI because we haven’t done a good job of making students feel like they matter.”
Yan expressed his hopes for ASUCI to improve this transparency in the future, especially in regards to student fees.
“We also [need to] be more transparent with what we do with student fees because every student at UCI pays an ‘Associated Students’ fee that goes into student government. We haven’t really been transparent as much with what we do with those fees and so students are just like ‘Oh, student government just takes my money and does whatever they want,’ and that creates a lack of trust amongst the students,” he said.
“Low voter turnout doesn’t just happen just because of a pandemic, it happens because we just built upon this culture of students not knowing or not caring about student government as much.” Yan said. “Hopefully next year and the years after, [ASUCI] can do more and regain more of this trust between the students and ASUCI.”
Despite the low voter turnout, the results of the election were announced on April 27. None of the election results received official complaints or contests.
Four of the five ASUCI Presidential and Vice Presidential (VP) offices will be filled in the 2021-2022 school year by members of the Anteater Alliance slate. The results are as follows: ASUCI President Michelle Wei (Anteater Alliance), External VP Victoria Montalvo (Anteater Alliance), Internal VP Alyssa Naigan (Anteater Alliance), Academic Affairs VP Angel Hoang (Anteaters United) and Student Services VP Joshua Ma (Anteater Alliance).
The Office of the Student Advocate General will be filled by Wiley Wilson.
The ASUCI 2021-2022 Senate seats will be filled primarily by members of the Anteaters United slate. Six of seven Senators At-Large will be from this slate, including Fernando Aguilar, Nishat Forkan, Jaira Pamintuan, Yoseph Ghazal, Fiorela Palacio and Sina Shahrood. The seventh At-Large Senator will be Jun Jang (Anteater Alliance).
13 of the 19 academic school-specific senators ran unopposed. The nine unopposed candidates were elected as follows: Arts Sen. Jason Sanchez; Business Sen. Alexander Ezeani; Humanities Sen. Sarah Semaan (Anteaters United); Nursing Science Sen. Henry Vu; Pharmaceutical Science Sen. Alisha Patel (Anteaters United); Physical Science Sen. Luke Barbarita (Anteaters United); Public Health Sen. Derek Chang (Anteaters United); Social Ecology Sens. Danielle Gurian-Halpern (Anteaters United) and Anthony Mansfield; and Social Sciences Sens. Melissa Cruz (Anteaters United), Elizabeth Hafen (Anteater Alliance), Zachary Griggy (Anteaters United) and Joshua Swank.
Vu and Patel were elected with the lowest recorded votes for this election with 11 and 12 votes each, respectively.
The remaining six senators ran with opposition and were elected as follows: Biological Science Sens. Sandra Del Carmen Sandria (Anteaters United) and Mary Zheng (Anteaters United); Engineering Sens. Kyle Van and Damian Clogher; and Information and Computer Science Sens. Kabeer Bahl (Anteater Alliance) and Elliot Sasson.
The Special Interest International Senator will be Jira Trinetkamol (Anteater Alliance). Current Special Interest Transfer Sen. Elizabeth Montoya (Anteaters United) has been reelected for another term in her current office.
Dhanika Pineda is a 2020-2021 Campus News Co-Editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.