Unpredictable voter turnout expected for 2020 election


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The question “Does my vote matter?” lingers in every election. Reflecting on last year’s voter turnout, this year remains unpredictable due to most candidates going unopposed. 

Elections are heralded by Facebook posts, polka-dotted with “I Voted” stickers and punctuated with CNN exit polls. In spite of all the Election Day fanfare, there’s still one thing that most American elections lack: voters.

The United States’ voter turnout ranks much lower at around 60% when compared to other developed nations such as Australia and Belgium, with 90%, according to FairVote. If this statistic is reflective of an American mindset on voting, it could explain the lack of students heading to the polls, or voting portal of their myBama accounts, during SGA elections.

With well over 30,000 students enrolled at the University, not even half voted in the 2019 SGA Election. Last year in the 2019 SGA Spring Election, 31.03 to 33.92% of the University voted among the SGA executive candidates. The highest voter turnout within the executive candidates consisted of 12,192 votes cast for the president position. 

In any election, there are people who vote passionately and others who feel their vote doesn’t matter. For the upcoming SGA election, students like Mike Brown, a freshman majoring in accounting, plan to do their duty by voting on Tuesday, March 3.

“If you want to see changes in [how your school is run,] then you have to actually take the initiative and to try and make that change happen,” Brown said. “If you don’t vote, then you can’t complain, because you had that opportunity to make a change. As far as ‘Your vote doesn’t matter,” if everyone thought that way, then your voice really wouldn’t matter. It is about everyone coming together. Maybe one person seems insignificant in the small picture, but in the big picture, that one person becomes a lot of people.”

Kaila Pouncy, a freshman majoring in criminal justice and political science, serves on the SGA First Year Council. She encourages students to take part in voting in the election on Tuesday.

“There’s no other purpose for [SGA elections] except for the students,” Pouncy said. “These elections are for the students to have the chance to say, ‘here’s what I want to see be done on campus,’ and so the vote really does matter a lot.”

With only one candidate running for the presidency for the first time since 2013 and the majority of the candidates running in the election this year going unopposed, the number of students casting their vote on Tuesday remains in question. 

Jack Baron, a junior majoring in marketing, is a member of the SGA Elections Board. He said there has been a decent voter trend and hopes there is a good voter turnout this year.

“I think there’s a good amount of students that vote in the election but not the whole student body,” Baron said. “I think that that’s something SGA is wanting is more students to get involved and want to vote and voice their opinions.”

Some students may feel their vote won’t help their favored candidate win because their opposition is doing better. In this case, Pouncy said it is important for students to continue to vote because every vote counts.

Pouncy said a lot of the candidates want students to voice their opinions on what they want to see accomplished on campus – it’s about more than candidates wanting to advance themselves within a position. Pouncy said what matters is caring for the community, making changes within their platform and caring for the advancement and growth for the campus.

“The voter turnout is a little bit better when we have candidates who go out of their way to connect with other students instead of just saying, ‘Hey, vote for me,’” Pouncy said.

The University of Alabama SGA election will take place on Tuesday, March 3. Students can vote through their myBama accounts from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.