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TSTC Sees 'Monumental' Increase in SGA Elections Voter Turnout

Friday, April 5, 2013
By Eladio Jaimez

Texas State Technical College’s Director of Student Life Adele Clinton simply described it as “monumental.”

During last month’s Student Government Association (SGA) elections, 552 of the 2,361 Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) students voted on campus to elect their new student leaders. That translated into a 23 percent voter turnout amongt FTE students, which is the demographic used on a national level, Clinton said.

Voter turnout has increase drastically at TSTC in the past couple of years. In 2011, the voter turnout was four percent. Last year saw an increase reaching 12 percent.

“I was surprised at the turnout,” Clinton said. “I always shoot for at least 10 percent turnout in our elections, which for a technical college is excellent, but to have reached 23 percent is monumental.”

Indeed monumental might even be an understatement.

According to research by the American Student Government Association, of which TSTC is a member institution, the national average among all types and sizes of institutions is only four percent. Data is collected from over 5,000 member institutions in the country.

Average voter turnout among community and technical colleges is under two percent. Public colleges and universities see an average voter turnout of 10-15 percent. Private institutions are a bit higher producing vote at a rate of 15-20 percent.

So for Clinton, seeing the 23 percent turnout at TSTC was nothing short of a fruit of their hard labor.

“This year we had a really great group of students out campaigning and that always boosts voter turnout,” Clinton said. “The Student Life Office sponsors the elections and we made every effort to ensure voting was quick, easy and accessible.”

The voting took place over a four-day period and students also had the opportunity to vote online. The live voting booths were open seven hours a day and the Student Life staff covered a different “high-traffic” building on campus each day.

“We made sure no area of the campus was without promotional posters and we blasted it numerous times on our social media sites,” Clinton said. "We found most students preferred to vote online from the comfort of their own computers.”

Clinton said the numbers don’t lie and reaffirms the notion that SGA at TSTC is very relevant.

“The officers have a solid constituency they know they must serve,” Clinton said. “If one-fourth of your campus is voting and engaged with Student Government, the SGA thus raises the bar on their performance and service to the students. High voter turnout rates in SGA elections means that the students on campus are engaged and participating in their college experience, which is what we continually strive for. It's a win-win situation all around, and as an advisor, I couldn't be happier.”

For more information on TSTC Student Life, SGA or how to get involved on campus go to http://www.tstc.edu/harlingenstudentlife.

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