Despite a large increase in the number of candidates vying for positions in the Yale College Council, turnout in this year’s elections declined, particularly in the Freshman Class Council election, which saw a 25 percentage point drop in participation.
The percentage of students voting in the FCC race fell from 83.9 percent to 58.42 percent this year, as the total number of eligible voters increased from 1,152 to 1,580 with the addition of Yale’s two new residential colleges. Turnout also declined on aggregate in races for residential college representatives on the YCC, although in some colleges, such as Trumbull College, participation remained relatively stable compared to last year. Ninety-nine of the 110 candidates this fall were first years.
Voting opened at 8 a.m. Thursday morning and closed at 8 p.m. Friday evening. Current YCC leaders, including YCC President Matt Guido ’19 and Vice President Nicholas Girard ’19, attributed the low turnout to the organization’s new voting platform, OrgSync, which requires students to create an account in order to vote.
“Fall elections always have less turnout, especially since not every college has a rep,” Girard said. “But we’re going to look at improving OrgSync to make voting easier. If OrgSync turns out to not be the best platform, we will work with our programming team to find a new one.”
Girard added that because there is a quick turnaround from Camp Yale to YCC elections, many first years may be unaware of the voting process. Still, he highlighted the technical problems OrgSync presented, especially with first years, as a more important factor. For example, the platform labeled all Timothy Dwight first years as Trumbull first years on the council’s end, which added a hurdle to interpreting results.
Shazidur Talukder ’21, a student in Benjamin Franklin College, said he voted mostly because he was friends with one of the candidates.
“I did vote, but mainly because one of my friends was running for a position,” Talukder said. “I remember thinking it was so much like a popularity contest because no one actually made their positions or strengths known. I voted for who I knew.”
The only junior to enter this year’s fall elections won a seat to represent Benjamin Franklin. Seven candidates competed for two spots in that race, which Gray Newfield ’19 and Ben Dormus ’21 won, with 52 percent and 32 percent of votes, respectively. Newfield ran against three other first years and two sophomores.
Last year, five out of 12 FCC races exceeded 100 voters, meaning five out of twelve FCC races exceeded participation rates of about 88 percent. This election cycle, only three out of 14 FCC races exceeded 80 voters, which were Davenport, Pauli Murray and Pierson colleges.
Furthermore, five out of 11 college representative races exceeded 100 voters this year, including Benjamin Franklin, Davenport, Morse, Pauli Murray and Silliman colleges. Last year, four out of six college representative races exceeded 100 voters.
Girard said one obstacle to increasing voter turnout is getting the entire student body interested. He said that, this election season, students demonstrated a lot of interest in running for office, but he added that the YCC has to do more to build a stronger connection with the student body.
“We are reconsidering election policies as well,” Girard said. “We will have a group to review the YCC constitution and see if our ways of recruiting members, our ways of informing people about the elections and so on needs to change.”
Along with the elections, the council received about 100 applications for its committees, including 23 applications for the Spring Fling Committee, which will determine the artists for Spring Fling this year. They also received 17 applications to its three new task forces: the International Student Experience Task Force, the Pre-health Task Force and the Religious Experience at Yale Task Force. In particular, students expressed the most interest in the International Student Experience Task Force.
Brittany Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org | @