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ASUA elections head furious about low turnout

By David J. Cieslak
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 5, 1999
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The ASUA elections results celebration suffered a blow last night when candidates got word that 1,704 UA students ventured to the polls - marking the second-worst turnout in 10 years.

Associated Students Elections Commissioner Anthony Hill shocked the crowd of 100 at Taco Bron, 831 N. Park Ave., when he blasted the candidates, saying many winners did not campaign effectively.

Hill said the minute number of voters, five percent of the student body, reflects poorly on many elected officials and ASUA.

While last year's contest garnered about 3,200 voters, Wednesday's and yesterday's Associated Students campaign results showed what Hill called ASUA's illegitimacy at the University of Arizona.

"This government is dead before it takes office," he said. "The student body, by not voting, did not give legitimacy to ASUA."

While Hill said one of the lowest turnouts came in 1994, when 1,449 ballots were cast, he added that the average ASUA election draws about 3,000 students to the polls.

"Someone needs to restore the prestige to ASUA," he said. "We've lost it in this election."

Theater arts junior Caitlein Ryan received 592 votes in her presidential bid, but lost to ASUA President-elect Cisco Aguilar, who garnered 1,016 votes.

After the announcement, Aguilar said Associated Students officials must work to reclaim the organization's honor.

"It's ASUA's problem and it's going to be my problem to get some respect back to ASUA," he said. "It puts a damper on things."

Aguilar said the organization needs to explore other options in an effort to draw more student voters.

On-line voting has been proposed as one option for students who choose not to brave the sun and make their way to polling places.

"We need to look at other options," he said. "It's going to take a lot of gruntwork but I'm ready to go into the trenches and do it."

Hill also said the two uncontested races - administrative and executive vice president - contributed to the humble turnout.

Administrative vice-presidential candidate Viviane Safrin was not challenged after her competition, write-in candidate Vene Aguirre, was eliminated in last week's primary election.

Safrin, who garnered 1,181 votes, conceded that uncontested races contribute to the problem, but she said her campaign, along with Executive Vice President-elect Ben Graff's race, was comprehensive.

"The two of us were out there everyday," she said. "We have a seriously-uphill climb, but I have no doubt that we'll come out strong with more student support."

And Graff, who received 1,256 votes, blasted Hill for the knocks he leveled at ASUA during the results announcement.

"They were getting sunburns and loving every minute of it," Graff said, referring to the candidates who worked to secure supporting votes on the UA Mall.

But Graff did say that ASUA officials fell short in gaining support for the electoral process.

"I think ASUA could do a lot better job getting students involved in the elections," he said. "ASUA is useless without the students. The only place we get power is the students - not ourselves."