Voter turnout still expected to be high despite one slate election

The University of Manitoba Students’ Union’s (UMSU) general elections are being held from March 3-5 this year, but students won’t have to choose between candidates. Students will have to vote “yes” or “no,” because this year’s UMSU’s executive candidates are going uncontested.

Despite the fact that the U of M experienced record high voting turnout last year — seeing 19.1 per cent of the student body come out to cast their ballot — some election officials feel that this year will be just as high, even though the Moving Forward slate, led by Heather Laube, is the only option.

When asked about what is being done by the UMSU electoral team to accommodate for the massive increase in student voters, Jason van Rooy, the chief returning officer (CRO), said that additional polling clerks as well strategically positioned voting booths may be seen across the campus.

“As for University Centre, where the voting seems to be extremely high, we have set up two polling stations at different ends of the Campo area,” said Van Rooy, explaining how this will enable students to line up at different ends of the campus resulting in less congested voting lines.
He continued, saying that they have also made changes to the number of polling stations in University Centre and have “increased the number of poll clerks to three clerks per polling station.”

Van Rooy explained, “Having three clerks, one checking ID and two others each with a ballot box and screen, allows the lines to move more quickly.”

Even though Van Rooy is positive about the 2010 election, he said that voter apathy could be a problem.

“There is a concern that one slate might result in increased apathy on the part of many students with regard to the election,” said Van Rooy. “However, there are a number of community rep positions, which have multiple candidates and three referenda for a total of four separate ballots.”

When asked about getting students out to vote in the single slate election, Camilla Tapp, Moving Forward’s campaign manager, explained, “The Moving Forward team is really excited about getting out there and speaking to as many students as possible about UMSU and the Moving Forward election platform during the election.”

Tapp also explained that, when it comes to the UMSU democratic process on the U of M campus, they are looking for students to help make the democratic process more efficient.

“The Moving Forward team welcomes any suggestions or comments on how to both improve UMSU and the election process so that we can continue to move forward and build on the successes of previous years.”

She also explained that during the election an assessment of the entire process will be done.
Following the election cycle, the Moving Forward team will be doing a thorough review of the entire campaign and election and providing our recommendations and feedback to the CRO on how the process can be improved in future years.