The voting period for the UC Santa Barbara Associated Students spring election is open until today, April 21, at 4 p.m. Students have the opportunity to vote on executive and senatorial candidates for the 2022-23 school year as well as a variety of fee reaffirmations, one constitutional amendment and one fee cancellation.
The Nexus has compiled a website with all Associated Students (A.S.) executive and senatorial candidates, which can be found here.
The A.S. constitutional amendment, dubbed the Nonpartisan Act, asks students to vote on the elimination of the party system for senatorial candidates as well as for the Internal Vice President (IVP) — the executive position that chairs the Senate.
Second-year pre-biology major and current On-Campus Senator Jessy Gonzalez, who was a student sponsor on the Senate bill that approved the Nonpartisan Act amendment and is running for IVP, said that the motivation for the bill came after seeing divisions within this year’s Senate produced by their contentious divestment vote.
“This caused a lot of polarization and a lot of … not so good relationships to start off and to keep working [with],” he said.
To avoid further polarization and partisanship within A.S., Gonzalez said he and others who worked on the bill originally wanted to eliminate the party system completely, but, in compromise, decided to limit the amendment to senatorial and IVP candidates after concerns from A.S. elections board around voter turnout.
As A.S. works to internally dissolve the party system, this year’s elections slate has seen notably low candidate turnout, with only 20 senatorial candidates running for a 27-person Senate and three of five executive positions having only one candidate running.
Voting turnout has also reached new lows: on day two of voting, only 5.67% of undergraduates and 6.65% graduate students had participated. Elections requires a 20% voter threshold for results to be valid.
Gonzalez, who is currently a candidate for IVP with the Isla Vista Party, said he saw “somewhat of a correlation” between this low turnout and the proposed amendment.
“One could see that there’s not that same amount of effort and publication and marketing for elections as was in previous years,” he said as one explanation for the decrease.
However, Gonzalez said that the high frequency of unopposed candidates running may also have contributed to lower voter turnout in this year’s election. In addition, he said the lack of competition between candidates from opposing parties also depressed voter turnout — with the Isla Vista Party running two executive candidates and no senatorial candidates versus Storke Party running a full Senate slate with only one executive candidate.
“I hear a lot of individuals say that because of a lack of competitiveness between the parties as before, a lot of people are not turning up to vote, especially since they know that a lot of individuals are running unopposed,” Gonzalez said. “So they feel like they shouldn’t vote because they’re going to get the position anyway.”
The constitutional amendment will require a two-thirds majority vote to pass.
Also on this year’s election ballot is a fee cancellation, created by executive order of current A.S. President Yuval Cohen. Originally, the ballot showed a reaffirmation fee vote for the University of California Student Association.
Now, “given that there is a new fee being being proposed by the UC Board of Regents, the UC Office of the President and UCSA, the maintenance of this fee would result in UC Santa Barbara students paying into the organization in a redundant manner,” according to the executive order, the ballot shows a cancellation vote instead.
The cancellation fee requires a 50% plus one voter to pass.
The two-year fee reaffirmations — which require 50% plus one voter to pass — are as follows:
- $2.00 every regular quarter — fall, winter and spring — and $0.67 during summer quarters for Isla Vista Arts.
- $3.82 every regular quarter and $1.00 during summer quarters for UCSB’s continued membership in the United States Student Association.
- $2.12 for regular and summer quarters for the A.S. Trans and Queer Commission.
- $4.96 for regular and summer quarters for the A.S. Food Bank.
- $1.25 every regular quarter and $0.83 during summer quarters for the Educational Opportunity Program.
- $10.08 for regular and summer quarters for the A.S. Finance Board/Student Organization Program funding.
- $20.85 for regular and summer quarters for the A.S. Program Board.
- $2.69 for regular quarters and summer quarter for the Department of Public Worms Composting program.
The four-year fee reaffirmations — which require 50% plus one voter to pass — are as follows:
- $19.91 every regular and summer quarter for Campus Learning Assistance Services’ group and drop-in tutorials.
- $5.68 every regular and summer quarter for Arts & Lectures Events.
- $37.90 every regular and summer quarter for Counseling and Psychological Services support.
- $8.52 every regular quarter and $7.06 during summer quarters for MultiCultural Center support.
- $3.47 every regular and summer quarter for The Green Initiative Fund.
- $0.76 every regular and summer quarter for the A.S. Community Volunteer Foundation.
- $7.00 every regular quarter, excluding summer, for Recreation Programming.
- $9.00 every regular and summer quarter for University Center support.
All fee reaffirmations also require a 20% voter threshold in order to be considered eligible.
A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the April 21, 2022, print edition of the Daily Nexus.