This article was edited Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 3:50 p.m. Changes are in bold.
Half the empty seats on Students’ Council and the General Faculties Council (GFC) have been filled now that the September by-elections have come to an end.
Students’ Council has four new councillors, leaving three positions still open. 14 councillors were elected to the GFC, leaving 11 positions unfilled.
Chief Returning Officer Farid Iskandar said there were 763 ballots cast in the by-elections, although 10 of those ballots were for faculties that did not have races in them, leaving 753 that counted towards the races.
Out of eligible voters on campus, the voting turnout was 2.95 per cent. Out of the entire campus, including voters who were unable to cast ballots, the turnout was 2.43 per cent.
“There’s a lot of factors in voter turnout — (this) was the second-highest voter turnout in a by-election since, as far back as I can go, 2005,” Iskandar said.
“There were a lot of candidates, so the first thing is that people tell others to vote for them. There were more than average candidates running in this by-election — there were two contested races, (and) voter turnout in Augustana, which was a contested race, was 10 per cent.”
Open Studies candidate Mark McCormack, who ran an uncontested race, received nine out of 11 votes.
“I’m not sure if that’s an all time high — I’ve never really heard of more than five people voting for Open Studies, but I was pretty impressed with 11,” he said.
“That was over twice what I was expecting to get. So I was happy, even though I think it’s less than half a per cent of the total faculty who voted.”
McCormack, who says he began developing his taste for student politics back in 2007, decided to launch a campaign even though his race was uncontested.
“Me and my campaign manager (launched) a Facebook group, of course, and invited all my friends … and then we tried to launch this viral meme campaign,” he said.
“We tried to make a little meme where people would drop out of school just to vote for me in Open Studies and stuff like that, but that was hard to come out.”
McCormack said he had planned to print 300 of the memes and put them around campus, but an executive of his student group Make Poverty History accidentally sent an email to their listserv about McCormack’s campaign.
“(She) didn’t know that you weren’t allowed to send out on listservs anything about who to vote for in the election, and so she thought she was just informing our membership base, but really she cost me half my campaign budget,” he explained.
“I suddenly couldn’t afford to print any posters, but 1,200 students suddenly knew about the by-election.”
He also talked to the Open Studies faculty office to get some names of Open Studies students, but was unsuccessful.
“(The faculty office) kind of had their hands tied, so I just went and talked to people one-on-one that I thought were Open Studies students, and did more of a face-to-face outreach,” he said.
Iskandar said that besides the number of candidates and contested races, the third factor affecting voter turnout is number of faculty associations using the Students’ Union’s voting system.
In this year’s by-elections, the Nursing Undergraduate Association and the Interdepartmental Science Students’ Society both used the system.
“The Students’ Union has fed (the faculty associations’) voter turnout, and they have fed our voter turnout,” he explained.
“Other than that, voter turnout is low in September because it’s a by-election — people don’t campaign, and people don’t know what’s going on. There’s too many things happening in September for students to take care of everything.”
According to the post-election CRO report, the future of polling stations will be re-assessed before the next election, since 92 per cent of ballots were cast at non-station computers.
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