Nearly half of the 1,048 undergraduates who voted in this semester’s Associated Students of the University of New Mexico senate elections voted for the incumbents.
Mohammad Assed and Madelyn Lucas both received over 500 votes in an election with a six percent turnout rate. That rate is the lowest since fall 2014, which saw a three percent turnout rate. This semester’s turnout was the second lowest in 14 semesters.
“This election was a good reminder of how important it is to constantly be improving and working to include more students,” said ASUNM President Becka Myers in a statement after the election.
Executive Director of Elections Commission Jordan Montoya said the low turnout was expected and things like the endorsement forum and the ballot’s design could be improved.
Typically, elections with fewer senators draw in fewer voters, according to a study conducted by Daily Lobo reporters.
The low turnout did not stop the slate Red1fining UNM, consisting of Assed, Nieajua Gonzalez, Daevon Vigilant, Gregory Romero and Kristin Woodworth. Assed had the most votes of any candidate. Woodworth, Vigilant, Romero and Gonzalez came in third, fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.
Assed attributed the slate’s success to its platform and its candidates. “Everyone on this slate is a leader,” said Vigilant, a running back for the UNM football team.
Redfiniing UNM ran on the platform of making UNM more racially inclusive and safer, and helping provide more opportunity to people after they graduate.
Current Finance Chair Madelyn Lucas narrowly came in second. Lucas said she was hesitant about running again. She said her role in new student orientation, a tutor with the Center for Academic Program Support (CAPS) and as finance chair of ASUNM gave her an edge.
Her slate, PACC UNM, had one other member elected — Ashley Varela.
Unite UNM had both of its candidates win. David Stearns and Elijah Jaffe came in seventh and eighth respectively. Xavier Torres, of Ignite UNM, was elected tenth.
Of the ten students elected, only Assed and Varela are not in Greek Life. The four other candidates who ran without a slate did not win.
The ten senator-elects are slated to join the Senate next semester.
They will be confronted by five fresh faces on the Board of Regents and an over $4 million gap in student fee spending requests and available funds.
The ASUNM Senate is responsible for appropriating money to charted student organizations, confirming un-elected positions throughout ASUNM and impeachment.
The Senate will also have a new President Pro Tempore and Steering and Rules chair in the spring. Sen. Jorge Rios, chair of the Steering and Rules Committee, and President Pro Tempore Satchel Ben decided not to run for reelection this semester.
Ben said, after three semesters as a senator, he wanted to focus on school.
The last committee meetings of the fall semester immediately followed the election. Steering & Rules approved a resolution that echoed Myers’ earlier letter that asked Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham to diversify the Board of Regents.
Justin Garcia is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers ASUNM. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @just516garc.