Does National Voter Data Reflect SGA Election Turnout?

The following is an independent analysis of the 2018 SGA Voter Turnout based on reasonable assumptions and provided data. This article does not necessarily reflect the views of Tiger Media Network.

BY JADEN MOUNT

According to the United States Election Project, 18- to 29-year-olds make up the lowest percent of voter turnout than other age groups. But how does this data translate to students at Fort Hays State University, particularly in Student Government Elections?

The newly elected 2018-19 SGA Vice President Kayelani Kirschbaum spoke on this matter during her campaign with running mate and 2018-19 SGA President Adam Schibi.

“A lot of people do think of voting whenever they do think civic engagement and that is something I would like to focus on only because our generation is one of the lowest percentage of voters in America right now,” said Kirschbaum. “And that is terrifying…[taking] steps maybe throughout the year that encourages why elections are important and how to get them to better understand how elections work through SGA…”

Though the matter is a topic of conversation, there is very little discussion on the actual numbers of the previous SGA elections. At this time, Tiger Media Network has yet to receive any information on the 2018 voter turnout from the Center of Student Involvement or SGA. TMN, however, does have information that could help predict the voting turnout.

A May 2014 TMN article titled “Keeping SGA elections fair: new tech, short cycle, and confusion” claims the election turnout that spring was 502. FHSU Registrar’s Office reported that the total Full-Time Undergraduate Enrollment in that semester was 5,095; 3,606 On-Campus and 1,489 Virtual or Online. This equates to less than ten percent (9.85%) of the undergraduate population turning out to vote.

Two years later, TMN Staff Member Raven Dick wrote an article titled “Voter Turnout Determines FHSU Wants a Monarch, Not a Democracy – Opinion”. Dick claimed that voter turnout between 2015 and 2016 had dropped 15%. Without a basis for the 2015 turnout, I have applied a conservative estimate of a five percent decrease from 2014 to 2015 for a total of 476 voters.

*The following data is estimated based on reasonable assumptions and available data*

Taking away the claimed 15% from that number, it is an estimate that the total voter turnout for the 2016 SGA Elections was 404. The total Full-Time Undergraduate Enrollment at that time was 5,243. That is a drop from the 9.85% in 2014 to 7.7% in 2016. In only two years, these elections lost a little over two percent of their turnout.

For the sake of simplicity, the estimated five percent decrease would have continued in both 2017 and 2018 elections. The total predicted turnout in 2017 equates to 383 while 2018’s prediction is 363. The total Full-Time Undergraduate Enrollment for 2018 is 5,437. In terms of percentage, the estimated voter turnout is 6.67%.

Thus, if the estimated calculations are accurate to a small margin of error, SGA elections have decreased by an average of 0.795% per year since 2014. The FHSU graduate population has been dismissed from these equations due to lack of available data.

With some numbers to actually apply to the issue, we can now see why this should be concerning, not to just members of SGA, but also CSI and the rest of FHSU’s administration. It is not just a matter of deciding who gets to represent the student body, but also a possibility very few students are interested in addressing campus issues or having their individual concerns be heard.

Though Schibi does not believe it is a lack of leadership within the campus, those with an outside-in view can suggest that there is, perhaps, a disconnect between on-campus leaders and their constituents.

The campaign platform set up by Schibi and Kirschbaum did touch on points related to this issue. However, we will have to wait to see how successful they are during the 2018-19 academic year.

One Reply to “Does National Voter Data Reflect SGA Election Turnout?”

  1. I don’t think that it is necessarily fair to say that there is a decrease in voter turn out every single year. Each year, we get new students to campus and students graduate from campus, turning over our population of voters to a degree. It may be a trend within this generation to not be voting, but until we see real data, I do not believe that we can just assume voting is going down by that much each year. I understand the point, and not having the data, but I do not think that is a reasonable assumption!

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