For years now, Brock University Students’ Union has turned to email voting for its three yearly elections held in October, February and March. Brock undergraduate receive an email to their BrockU accounts, providing them a link to their ballot, which they can choose to cast or completely ignore.
For the most part, a majority of students choose to ignore this email and not vote in the elections that determine the BUSU executive team, student funding/referendums, BUSAC seats and Senate seats. The BUSU By-Elections, which passed last week, saw only 25.7 per cent of students vote – the record came back in February with 35.3 per cent.
Now, voter turnout is significantly poor across the board from Municipal, Provincial and Federal elections, and other universities see a poor turnout in their student union elections as well.
The same two questions are constantly being asked:
- How do we get students to care for these elections?
- How do we get more students to vote?
The first question is tough to answer. Between classes, work, family life and a social life, students don’t care to look into these elections or read platforms. They do care if their tuition cost is going up, but at the same time, don’t bother with referendum votes.
Past and present BUSU executives have asked these questions and haven’t come up with a formal answer.
Students do receive three days in each election to vote, so it’s a significant time to check their email, take 10 minutes to read and vote. However, it is still overlooked.
I can’t comment on how students voted prior to the email ballot, but let’s assume it was through voting stations across campus. Could it be time to bring voting stations back? Students won’t want to be stopped in the middle of the hallway while trying to get to class, so the location of these stations will have to be planned out, while still in high traffic areas. There would also have to be a drastic measure taken to market these stations, so students are directed there. There’d also need to be neutral people working these stations to avoid bias, so if students do have questions about platforms they can ask them.
You would think in a world that technology has taken the forefront that email voting would work. And to be honest, voting stations at this point won’t work either. I’m contradicting my point, but it’s an idea and something to try.
Students’ don’t realize (or care) that referendums can determine where their student money is going, or if their tuition is on the rise – until they see their tuition. We are at a crossroad with student politics and elections, its been like this for awhile and it probably won’t change. However, it might be time to try different things to inform students and get them to vote.