It's that time of year again: from the huge banners in Red Square and small signs in dining halls to the candidates themselves advertising in person, Western's campus is full of reminders to vote in this week's AS election.
According to AS Elections coordinator Ben Murphy, this year's election advertising is meant in part to inspire a turnaround in the decreasing number of student voters.
“Last year's turnout in general was really low, lower even than years past,” Murphy said. “We're on a downward trend, and pinpointing the exact reason why is impossible. But we're looking past that and trying to encourage everyone by working through new mediums to advertise the elections.”
In addition to the posters and banners, the AS recently released a promotional video produced by KVIK encouraging students to vote and educating them on the importance of taking part in the election. The candidates also made stops in residence halls and took part in two candidate forums, held April 21 and 24.
“The AS Board of Directors is made up of some of the most important people that affect Western students' lives on a daily basis,” Murphy said. “The decisions that the board helps make impact students on everything from student fees to graduation requirements, GURs, campus safety and security, and all those sorts of things. Students should really take the time to vote in this election.”
Western freshman Jim Allen said that experience and sociability will be the most important factors in determining who he votes for this week.
“They have to reach out to students and be very approachable,” Allen said. “And if they have a lot of leadership experience, like from high school or hall council, that helps because it shows that they know what's going on and they care about what happens on campus.”
Murphy is also hoping that the vigor students felt for the democratic process during the state of Washington's primary election will make the student election more appealing to voters.
“There was a strong turnout back in February for the primaries and caucuses among both parties,” Murphy said. “We're hoping that a lot of that excitement and passion about the political process will translate over to student politics as well.”
While he did not want to make a specific prediction for this year's voter turnout, Murphy said that anything higher than the last few years would be great.
“If a quarter of the school turned out and voted, that would be a massive improvement over the trend of the last five or six years,” Murphy said. “Seriously—vote, vote, vote! It doesn't cost you a thing.”