Elections derive legitimacy from the interest and participation of the voting population. If no one votes, or if their votes are easily subverted on the way to the ballot box, then it can be said that an election is a sham.
At the time of writing, BC ASG elections will not have finished collecting votes. BC’s students have until 5 p.m. May 4 to supposedly fashion a representative student government that will speak on their behalf on a gambit of issues.
BC’s students face a problem. This election will not represent the BC community’s majority.
Voter participation for this election was found by a “Soapbox” survey to be roughly 20 percent of the on-campus BC community. This number may prove even smaller; a number of the candidates noted that that this year was looking to be a record low for turnout.
These numbers would have been far lower if not for the voting frenzy which surrounds this year’s gathering of food trucks. Half of those surveyed as having had voted said that they would not have voted if it was not for the free food. I suspect this number is a lot higher. In this environment, an insulting number of students admitted to choosing candidates on purely aesthetic reasoning.
A student was heard saying by the voting table, “His eyes are so pretty! Vote for the pretty eye guy,” where organizers set up a handful of tablets. One of the candidates, probably more out of excitement than deviousness, handed out candy to people in line to vote if they promised to vote for him, which is apparently in contempt of some by law or another.
The horrible, funny-only-because-it’s-not-you thing about all this is that many of the candidates are fully qualified, passionate people that are dedicated to improving the school.
The main problem here is lack of proper communication from any given current administration of ASG with the students, and a lack of student involvement with ASG. Outside a community college, any election where nearly half the ballot is made up of unchallenged candidates, qualified as they might be, would mean a deterioration of representation.
This is obviously due in some part to BC’s transitory population. A large portion of the students only take online classes, take night classes, or are only at the school long enough for classes. Yet it is equally important to acknowledge that the ASG has not done enough to remind people of its existence and actions. Many who surveyed as having had not voted talked about how, if the ASG does anything important at all, it is surprising that so little of the impact of the program is common knowledge.
Instead, students were blithely talked at from BC’s south plaza’s cement podium about aspirations of a few more bucks worth of printing money and more headphones for the library. Some candidates brought forward well-prepared speeches tauting notable changes, but students stood placidly staring at the election table, where they would tap at a tablet a few times to get a little orange ticket that meant a free miniature meal. What few people actually paid attention left as soon as they had their hot food.
The humorous quintescence of all this seemed to be this day with the food trucks, which cost the school and thus the students. Students talked about how many times they thought they could go through the line and pretend to vote; the most persistent of them had already gone four times. An elderly woman, wax paper container in one hand and a taco dribbling down the other, turned to the students, her eyes laughing.
“I don’t even go here,” she said.
Did you vote in the ASG elections?
Yes: 43 No: 173
Would you have voted without free food?
Yes: 18 No: 25
Do you believe you know what your candidates would do in office?
Yes: 20 No:23
Can you name more than two candidates?
Yes: 5 No: 38