The hot gossip on campus this week is all about a candidate allegedly tampering with votes and allegedly ruining the sanctity of the SU electoral system. We here at The Gateway have reported on the controversy, but are unimpressed with the allegations of tampering.
Which got us thinking, if we were going to rig an election ourselves, how would we do it?
Getting ahead in SU elections is easy, all you have to do is scare off the competition.
By that I don’t mean threatening other students, that’s way too obvious, no matter how malleable the spines of some council members. No, scare off the competition and make running in the election seem like a waste of time.
Every year, at least one race is inevitably a foregone conclusion before campaigning even begins. This year, we saw that in the presidential race. Everyone knew no one was going to beat Navneet Khinda, so no one challenged her for the position.
But naturally you can’t pull that off. You’re the one cheating to win, silly, you’re not good enough to pull that one off. Luckily, there’s another way. The same thing happens if there’s already four or five candidates for a position. Why bother running at all if there’s that much competition?
First off, since SU politicians are skittish and easily scared off, make loud noises and wild gestures to disperse most of your competition.
Past that, the brave few who stick around will be discouraged from running once they see their competition. Just convince a number of other students to run “opposing” you. In reality, they’ll all show up just enough to qualify for the race in the beginning, then disappear and make no further effort. No posters, no forums, no debates, nothing.
By the time anyone realizes these faux candidates aren’t really running, it’ll be too late to allow any new candidates. And thus, campus will be stuck with you, and the crown is yours. Remember, it’s all part of the game. — Andrew Jeffrey
The best way to commit voter fraud is to not do it in person. Thanks to technology and the SU’s acceptance of online voting, it’s much easier to do so. One technique is phishing, where a malicious webpage is disguised as another for some ulterior motive. The potential candidate would create a campaign website as usual, adding a link for a place to vote.
On the day voting opens, they could then get someone from another country to “hack” into the site to point the link to a website that looks identical to the SU elections page. But this separate site is owned by the candidate, privately hosted offshore. Perhaps even in the same country that the “hack” came from.
Blissfully unaware students would go to the site to vote, ignorant of the fact that their data doesn’t go directly to the SU servers. Their information is collected and automatically sent to the SU’s form, except the candidate’s race would be changed to vote for them instead of their opponents.
Of course, this alone wouldn’t be secure enough, and the SU’s election site may prevent automation, which would require the candidate’s team to manually input the data they collect. But with a little technical prowess, the unethical candidate could create a scandal bigger than anything the SU has seen before. — Kevin Schenk
Insecure about your prospects in the next Students’ Union elections? It’s time to do something shady, something that will ensure your win. You’re going to have to get your hands dirty, but you don’t care — you’re a determined young politician, gosh darn it!
Here’s a fool-proof trick to stuff the ballot in your favour: run a really good campaign.
First things first: be visually appealing. Take good-looking campaign photos and come up with a solid campaign slogan, maybe a play on words about your name. But make sure to not do something totally terrible, like comparing yourself to a beer, or something.
Next, make campaign promises that sound really realistic. Like, think of things that you would actually be able to do during your time as an executive and things that would actually make a difference to your electorate. Think of phrases like “balance the budget,” “make councillors show up to council” and “fix the SUB elevators and get some damn microwaves” — you know, things that matter. Forget about lofty, unrealistic goals, like renovating Dewey’s. Lord knows their burger buns are going to be stale no matter what the bar’s wall colours are.
I like to think of the undergraduates at the U of A as an honest, well-meaning (if not naive) bunch of people. Of course, there’s some filthy liars and cheaters among us, but if you want to trick the masses of student voters in your favour, be (or at least appear to be) honest and reliable. The plebeians will never know what hit ‘em. — Kate Black