On Wednesday, the Associated Students of UNM held its Senatorial Elections for the semester, as more than 1,600 undergraduates cast ballots for undergraduate student government leaders to represent them for a year beginning in the spring.
A total of 10 Senate seats were up for grabs, with 36 candidates eagerly hoping to fill them, but it was the slate Speak Now for ASUNM that dominated the results.
Nine of the 10 senators-elect were part of the slate as each of its members were elected into office. Elena Garcia, who organized it, said their success is the result of two busy weeks of preparation for the team, but she was happy with their overall campaign efforts.
“We really pushed for every single one of us,” she said. “Like, if you vote for me, vote for all of us. People really did that. And that’s fantastic.”
Jonathan Sanchez, who ran as a part of Speak Now for ASUNM — and who received the highest number of votes with 671 — said the win was entirely a group effort.
“It was a lot of work. But we all worked together and did everything we could,” he said. “No one person did it on their own. We knew that was the only way we’d be able to accomplish anything”.
Noah Brooks, current senator and chair of the Steering and Rules Committee, was running for re-election but missed out on serving another term by less than 50 votes. He said he wasn’t too upset about the loss, however.
“I have full faith the students elected who best represented them,” he said, adding that he plans to stay involved.
Another incumbent, Sen. Hannah Williams, managed to clinch the final spot out of 10. She said she didn’t know what to expect with the results, even having gone through the process before in the past.
“I knew how campaigning was going to go, but you never know how the results are going to go. It’s exciting,” she said. “I think everyone will step up and be a great senator.”
Keith Blumenfeld, director of ASUNM’s Elections Commission, said the election process and campaigning throughout the day went off without any problems.
He said polling from the three physical locations on campus — in the SUB, Zimmerman Library and SRC Commons — saw a higher turnout than the previous year.
Blumenfeld also noted a number of people asking about the online voting process.
The Fall Senate Election in 2015 saw a total of 1,746 students participate, with 965 of those votes being cast via the newly-implemented method of voting online.
Both Blumenfeld and his assistant director, Sabrina Moore, said they noticed a curious trend in campaigning this year, with fewer people being present in Smith Plaza during voting times.
“It’s kind of an unusual election this fall because normally there are people pushing flyers all over Smith Plaza. And there wasn’t this year,” Blumenfeld said. “I don’t know if this group of candidates was just different. Maybe they kept their campaign to social media or just didn’t campaign very much and tried to rely on their friends.”
“But that’s the candidate’s choice. We give them the opportunity to campaign as long as they’re within all the regulations,” he said. “Some take that opportunity and others don’t.”
Two proposed amendments to the ASUNM Constitution were also up for a vote.
The first, which proposed to make the spring president and vice president elections separate from senate elections by about a month, passed with 67 percent of voters approving the measure.
The second, which sought to primarily remove outdated legislative language, passed with 91 percent approval from voters.
The Elections Commission also recently conducted a student survey questioning why students chose to or not to participate in these elections. Blumenfeld said ASUNM hopes to use this information to improve the outreach and awareness of the governing body as a whole and, by extension, improve participation in elections.
Gabriela Garcia-Huff is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @thegreen_gablin.