Voting in student government elections

Photo Credit: Arnaud Jaegers on Unsplash

Photo Credit: Arnaud Jaegers on Unsplash

The voting period for the first of three student government elections held each academic year is currently underway. These elections are held to determine the governance of Brock University’s Students’ Union (BUSU).

The first round of elections, typically held in October, serves the purpose of appointing Brock University Students’ Administrative Council (BUSAC) representatives to available seats and running of any pertinent referendums. For the 2019-20 academic year, however, the October election period has extended into November.

The second round of elections, known as executive elections, is usually held in February. Among further referendums, students receive the opportunity to vote for and elect BUSU’s president, vice-president of finance and administration, vice-president of student services and vice-president of external affairs. Students can also expect to vote for senate and board of directors candidates. These elections typically see the highest voter turnout of the three which is usually because campaigning is done on a much larger scale during that period.

The third electoral period takes place in March and typically has students vote for, or against, one or more referendums, BUSAC seats and/or BUSU board of directors’ positions.

This academic year’s October elections see eight candidates vying for one of the two available BUSAC Student-at-large seats. The candidates are: Houssein Alayah, Isabella Chavez, Ria Choksi, Ali Imran, Naomie Jeyanthakumar, Rene Kumar, Moksh Sharna and Aishah Sonekan. In addition to these candidates, Rachel McCartney will be running for the sole Marilyn I. Walker campus representative seat available.

During the period, students will also have the opportunity to vote for or against the constitutional referendum which reworks a large portion of BUSU’s internal structure.

Though nominations for seats in the upcoming October by-election are closed, it’s important to note that each of the three elections is open to all undergraduate students as they are automatically eligible to run for positions within BUSU.

Elections are a major contributor to the success of student governance at Brock and determine the direction the student government will go in over the course of the next year. Every elected executive, BUSAC representative, board member and senate member impacts the quality of student life at Brock and where funding goes. Seeing as BUSU is funded largely through undergraduate student fees, active student engagement in both running and voting during elections is important.

Though Brock currently has over 19,000 undergraduate students, voter turnout in student government elections tends to only be a small fraction of the total populous. In BUSU’s executive election last February, 5,872 votes were cast, which was roughly 36.7 per cent of the student population at Brock at the time.

With the recent conclusion of the Canadian federal government elections, a relatively good student voter turnout is anticipated for the fall elections.

Unlike federal elections with very specific rules about where voting can occur and by whom, voting in any student government election can be done online once voters are currently enrolled as Brock undergraduate students and have functioning email accounts. In order to vote in this election, students simply have to log onto their Brocku.ca email between Tuesday, November 5 at 9:00 a.m. and Thursday, Nov. 7 at 9:00 p.m. Each eligible student will receive a single-use ballot that is valid for the current election period.

When students click on this ballot, they will be able to select the referendum, on which you can vote “yes” or “no”. In addition, students will also be able to vote for their desired student-at-large representatives and by default, McCartney will be elected to the position of Marilyn I. Walker campus representative.

Students with questions about any of BUSU’s student government elections can reach out to Wendell Noel, the Union’s chief returning officer, at cro@brockbusu.ca

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