SGA election plagued by low turnout


Peyton Shepard

Voter participation in SGA is still struggling to regain its footing after almost a decade of low turnout. 

Less than 15,000 of the University’s nearly 37,665 students participated in the 2017 SGA Election, according to the SGA executive results from the Elections Board. The race between Lillian Roth, Jared Hunter and Gene Fulmer managed to surpass last year’s three-way race, though by a slim margin of 876 votes. While the increase was slight, the election produced a 38 percent turnout, the second highest since 2010, behind the 2015 election between Elliot Spillers and Stephen Keller. 

Low turnout has plagued SGA elections in recent years; since 2010, no election has seen over a 50 percent turnout. The 2015 election, despite its national prominence and historic outcome, only pulled 43.5 percent of students into the polls. 

Though the turnout remained low for 2017, the increase could promise a potential climb in years to come, as long as positions remain contested. Data from each election cycle from 2010 to 2017 shows an increase in voter turnout in every year the President position saw more than one candidate running. As more independent candidates have begun to enter the ring, more students have voted. The only year that did not follow this trend was the 2016 race between Roth, Caroline Morrison and Patrick Fitzgerald, which experienced a drop off from Spillers’ election in 2015.