ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of New Mexico Student Union Building was one of the numerous locations around the metro where locals could vote early and on Election Day. While there was a consistent line for most of the day on Tuesday, many students said there seemed to be a disconnect between them and their access to election information.
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Ryan Ozatalar, a junior at UNM, said he didn’t know any one of his peers who was voting in the local elections. “I didn’t know there was voting going on, or else I would’ve voted. Because I don’t want to just vote blind, I feel like there’s no point to vote blind. You should be educated before you go,” Ozatalar said.
Student-athlete and freshman Ariana Jamerson said the only reason she knew there was an election was because of the NCAA mandate that practice that day would be canceled. “I didn’t know about it until like a week ago,” Jamerson said. “Most of them (peers) didn’t know about it at all. I wouldn’t have known about it at all.”
She said her biggest hindrance in voting on Election Day was her lack of knowledge about what is on the ballot. “I just felt really uninformed on what it was that I’d be voting on,” Jamerson said. “It would be really ignorant if I just went in there and voted without knowing what it is I’m voting for.”
Sophomore Emerson Williams said he wasn’t aware voting could be done at the Student Union Building until he saw something about it on social media. “I think learning in classes through the teachers would be a really good way to kind of reach our UNM population along with social media posts will probably reach a lot of people,” Williams said.
The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico held three separate “Coffee with a Candidate” events where students had the opportunity to speak directly with the mayoral candidates at the Student Union Building. However, ASUNM officials said only about 10 people attended those events.
Freshman Christian Sanchez said he knew who was running for Albuquerque mayor but not much beyond that. He said many of his friends didn’t know there was an election. Sanchez chalks it up to students focusing on the Halloween weekend, as well as their studies. “I think more rallies on campus would’ve been a good way to reach out. Maybe not even for just a ‘vote for blank person’ but more just vote for someone and get to know who these politicians are,” Sanchez said. “I think kids nowadays, we only focus on what’s going on in the national level. We don’t really know what’s going on in our own city which is a big deal.”
Sanchez said that while he understood the importance of voting in local elections, he didn’t have what he felt to be sufficient facts on all the candidates. He felt that the campaigns were less accessible to students his age. “A lot of kids get our information from social media so, that could’ve been a big deal about why we didn’t hear about the election a lot or what these people stood for,” Sanchez said.
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