UCSD catches the apathy bug, few students turn out to vote

    Yesterday’s primary election saw San Diegans narrowly defeat a proposed beach alcohol ban, the rise of a novice politician, and the lowest voter turnout in years.

    Tyler Huff
    Guardian

    UCSD residents had the opportunity to vote for local and state issues at one of two on-campus polling centers. The polls were placed in the Price Center Ballroom and at John Muir College in the Half Dome Lounge.

    Polls opened at 7 a.m. and remained open until 8 p.m. Pollsters reported the turnout was low.

    Gene Olson, poll inspector at the Muir college site, remarked, “”The turnout is quite sparse. We’re here until eight, so hopefully it will pick up.””

    It did not.

    Preliminary data from the San Diego County Registar of Voters shows UCSD resident turnout was indeed low. Because overall turnout data has yet to be compiled, the results are not official.

    If the turnout for Proposition G, the beach alcohol ban, at the two UCSD polling places can be applied to the overall turnout on campus, then 6.6 percent of registered UCSD residents voted.

    According to the Registar of Voters, 94 on-campus votes were cast in the Proposition G contest. There are 1,412 voters registered to cast ballots at on-campus polling sites.

    The 1,412 figure may be misleading, however, because of absentee ballots and former residents who remain registered on campus from the 2000 presidential election.

    Poll inspector Edward Washburn from the Price Center Ballroom polling place concurred.

    “”It hasn’t been that busy,”” he said.

    The low turnout at UCSD was mirrored at the state level. This election was the second-lowest in California primary history, beating only the 1994 primary when then-governor Pete Wilson was up for re-election.

    Students say they had their reasons for not voting.

    “”I didn’t vote because when I was trying to make an informed decision, it ended up being too time-consuming,”” said Revelle senior Karina Corbett. “”When it became time to vote, it was too late.””

    Marshall senior Julia Rotino found the ad campaign of Republican victor Bill Simon repulsive.

    “”The reason I didn’t vote is because every time I see the name Bill Simon, I begin vomiting uncontrollably,”” Rotino said. “”I didn’t think the people at the polling place would appreciate having to clean up after my regurgitated dinner.””

    Nevertheless, those who did vote on campus appeared enthusiastic about voting and the process itself. Muir College Council Chair, junior Elizabeth Erwin, remarked on her investment in voting.

    “”I think it is part of being a citizen,”” Erwin said. “”I may not care about everything we are voting on, but I should still be informed on it.””

    Roosevelt senior Laura Ginn also expressed her belief in the importance of voting.

    “”The presidential election proves that every vote counts,”” Ginn said. “”If you don’t vote, you have no room to complain.””

    Proposition G would have placed an around-the-clock ban on alcohol consumption at selected beaches in those areas. The ban was defeated by a mere 1,117 votes; 78,338 to 74,220.

    Many students opposed Proposition G, seeing it as unnecessary or an infringement upon personal liberty.

    Erwin remarked on her desire for autonomy.

    “”I’m 21 now, so I want the right to drink where I please,”” she said.

    Colleen Shannon, an employee of the San Diego Super Computer Center, shared a similar sentiment.

    “”There are laws against being drunk in public and against harassing other people,”” she said. “”I don’t think it is necessary to further restrict people. I have never drank at the beach, but if I wanted to I would want to be able to.””

    Poll workers noted that many students voted on the nonpartisan ballot.

    “”There are a lot of nonpartisans,”” said Poll Inspector Edward Washburn. “”This is nice for this election because you can vote for any governor candidate you want.””

    Washburn’s wife Elizabeth, the assistant poll inspector at the Price Center, remarked on the fine decorum of UCSD voters.

    “”Most students that voted were well-prepared with their books already marked,”” Elizabeth said.

    Simon was the big winner in the Republican primary for governor, defeating prominent opponent Richard Riordan with nearly 50 percent of the vote. Simon will take on Democratic incumbent Gov. Gray Davis, who walked away with his party’s nomination in November’s general election.

    Proposition 42 passed easily. The measure will allocate funds from gas taxes over the next five years toward repairing roads and improving mass-transit systems and infrastructure.

    Other passing propositions included 40, which allocated billions in bonds to protect parks and clean the ocean. Proposition 41, which frees up funds for the purchase of new machines for state-of-the-art counting of votes, also passed.

    Proposition 43, which amends the state constitution to have one’s vote counted, passed, as did Proposition 44, which restricts the practice of chiropractors who have committed crimes, including insurance fraud.

    The only statewide proposition that did not pass was 45, which would have given voters the right to petition to extend term limits for state senators and Assembly members.

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