The administrations of Becka Myers and Emily Wilks are coming to an end.
From Monday March 25th until 5 p.m. on Wednesday March 27th, the undergraduate student body — at least a portion of it — will elect a new president and vice president of the Associated Student of the University of New Mexico. Voting on Monday is all online. Voting on Tuesday and Wednesday is online and in person at the Student Union Building.
A handful of things are clear at this point in the race.
The candidates for these two races are ASUNM Senate Steering & Rules Chair Mohammad Assed and Lobo Spirit Executive Director Adam Biederwolf for president, and, for Vice President, Finance Committee Chair Holly Gallegos and Madelyn Lucas, who is also a current senator.
Biederwolf is running with Lucas on an unofficial slate called YourUNM. Assed is running with Gallegos on an unofficial slate called OneUNM.
Both campaigns have said access to resources, such as resources centers, is their top concern. Biederwolf said he thinks ASUNM, which includes the Senate and eight Student Service Agencies like Elections Commission and Lobo Spirit, are “Greek oriented” and that it can, and should, be changed.
To do this, Biederwolf and Lucas have said they would, if elected, make ASUNM more of a resource to the student organizations the government allocate money to. Additionally, they said they would do more to advertise student organization events.
Assed and Gallegos on the other hand, had proposed a legislative package of structural reform. The package would have created up to 10 new seats on the ASUNM Senate. The seats would have been filled by students appointed by resource centers or colleges. However, that package was killed in the Steering & Rules committee last Wednesday.
Both candidates have also said creating a more representative ASUNM is something they would work towards if elected.
That much is clear. But one lurking thorn in ASUNM’s side is voter turnout.
The Senate election of Fall 2018 saw the second lowest voter turnout in eight years. The worst in that period was the Fall 2014 election. Just over three percent of the over 20,000 undergraduates at UNM voted in the 2014 election, according to Daily Lobo records of ASUNM vote tallies. Those tallies were recorded from Elections Commission. During the eight-year period, ASUNM Senate election’s average a turnout of 8.7 percent.
Until 2016, the presidential election and spring senate elections were held over the same period. At the time, former ASUNM President and Senator Noah Brooks, said the reason for the separation was to improve turnout and limit the ability of traditional fraternities and sororities to swing presidential elections.
It’s unclear whether the change affected Greek-life participation. However, in 2017 Brooks defeated three other candidates in an election that saw a turnout of 2,416, according to Elections Commission. That’s 13.5 percent of the fall 2017 undergraduate population. The election after that had Myers and Wilks run unopposed.
What that number will be this time is anyone’s guess.
Justin Garcia is a staff reporter with the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers student government. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Just516garc.