Voter Turnout in ASCMC Elections Increases

Claremont McKenna College held elections for Associated Students of Claremont McKenna College (ASCMC) on Mar. 1. The elections decided President, both Vice President positions, Dorm Affairs Chair, and class presidents for the 2016-2017 academic year. 

More than half—53 percent—of CMC students cast a vote in the election, ten percentage points more than last year. 

"This year, over a hundred more votes were cast in the ASCMC Presidential election than were cast in last year’s [election]. A similar trend holds true for the VPSA race," ASCMC president-elect Nicky Blumm CM ’17 wrote in an email to TSL.

Edgar Warnholtz CM ’19, the newly elected sophomore class president, said that in an effort to increase voter turnout, he “held a voting booth outside of Collins” at a table where he encouraged people to vote on election day.

Joey Yamada CM ’18, the elected junior class president, said that student interest in the elections was evident in the high attendance at snack the night of the candidates’ speeches. She attributed the relatively low voter turnout to people being lazy or forgetting about the election. In general, she thinks “the best candidate wins, anyways, and so it’s one of those things where you just trust your fellow classmates."

Yamada said that it’s difficult to have a full representation of CMC in student government, especially during junior year because so many people are abroad.

“The people that do care are there. And I think that that’s what matters,'' she said. 

For the Junior and Senior Class President positions and the Diversity and Inclusion Chair, only one candidate ran.

The candidates "are known amongst the student body that those people were running, and they’re people that really fit the job," Warnholtz said.

Warnholtz believes there should be more candidates: last year, eight people ran for the class of 2019 president, and this year, only two ran. He thinks that encouraging individuals who ran for office in previous years to stay involved in student government would promote election participation.

Yamada said that it was unfortunate that she ran unopposed for Junior Class President.

“It would have been nicer to see my class a little more active in student government," Yamada said.

However, she also said that there are many juniors on the Executive Board for ASCMC, so the junior class is still fairly involved in the government. Also, many juniors choose to study abroad, which prevents them from running.

Only two women, Yamada and Cristina Lee CM ’18, the new vice president of student activities, ran for elected positions this year. However, on the board, there are six women and 12 men.  

In an email to TSL, Lee wrote that she was not concerned with the lack of gender diversity in elected positions because “while it is true that there were lots of male candidates this year, it’s not usually a 'male-dominated student government.'"

Yamada said she and Lee were sitting at a table at snack on the night of the speeches and looked around and realized that they were the only women running. However, she thinks the ASCMC board as a whole has a fairly equal gender distribution.

Warnholtz attributed the lack of female candidates mostly to lack of interest, not to any discrimination in student government.

Yamada said that at the end of the day, “you can only cater to those who [vote]," but ASCMC does aim to increase student involvement and represent the student body as accurately as possible.