VSG presidential voter turnout hits five-year low

Voter turnout in general election fell nine percent from last year

Source: Vanderbilt Institutional Research Group and Student Organization Program Coordinator Wil De Los Santos

Voter turnout in the VSG general election of president Jami Cox and vice president Ryan Connor hit a new low this year at around forty-five percent of the student body.

This number is down around nine percent from last year, when fifty-four percent of the undergraduate student body voted in the election of Ariana Fowler and Taylor Gutierrez. However, the turnout numbers have remained relatively stable around 50 percent of the student body since around 2013.

“I’d say it’s disappointing to see voter turnout for the general election at its low point in the past five years,” said VSG Election Commissioner, sophomore Cole Bowden. “Some of the dip is likely thanks to the nature of this year’s election and how it was perceived by the student body–while I personally saw it as a very interesting election, it would be reasonable enough for an uninformed or more apathetic voter to see the election this year as uninteresting.”

Source: Vanderbilt Institutional Research Group and Student Organization Program Coordinator Wil De Los Santos

Fewer students voted in the primary election, with 40 percent voting in the primary advancing Cox and opponent Braithwaite to the general election this year. These numbers have been stable as well, hovering around 40 percent.

Bowden emphasized that while VSG does take actions on social media and via email to inform the student body about the election, it is mostly up to the candidates to encourage voters to cast their votes on AnchorLink on election day. Each candidate has a campaign team consisting of ten members whose task is to inform the student body about the campaign and its platform.

“For the general election, those 24 people are simply going to be able to accomplish more than the three-person Elections Commission and the few positions in VSG responsible for social media and publicity–they have more people working vastly more total hours. This is especially true because of how much time the Elections Commission has to dedicate to behind-the-scenes work with the tickets to ensure a fair election, which can detract from time that would otherwise be spent publicizing the election.”

Bowden also attributed the relatively low participation in the election to the “comparatively light campaigning done by one of the two tickets on the ballot.”

One of Cox’s main platform points was to “support student activism and engagement” in VSG.

“If they do put work towards increasing general involvement from the student body, I think we’ll see better voter turnout in the years to come,” Bowden said.

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Sarah Friedman
Sarah Friedman ('19) is the former Editor in Chief of the Vanderbilt Hustler. She previously served as the Campus Editor and the Assistant Campus Editor. She is majoring in mathematics and economics in the College of Arts and Science. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys aggressively tagging her friends in Dogspotting posts, drinking mocha iced coffees from Dunkin' Donuts, and stalking other colleges' newspapers.


  1. I don’t know if “responsibility” is the word I’d use (in fact, I didn’t use it at all when going over my thoughts) – it’s not the candidates’ or campaign teams’ responsibility to do anything other than follow election rules. However, it is typically in their interests to spread the word of the election, and the total hours they are able to spend on campaigning and public outreach are generally going to be a very influential variable on voter turnout in any given year.