Widely considered to be a success, this month’s Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU) elections garnered a considerably wider turnout than usual, with almost 35 per cent o! students casting a bal- lot online.
Voters signed in to find their ballot using their university-issued Novell network login and proceeded through a program designed by the university’s Information Technology Services (ITS) department.
Unlike years past, where candidate names were randomized or there were numerous sets of ballots upon which candidates’ names showed up arranged in a different order, the online ballots for the 2011-12 election were alphabetized.
“There was, I guess, a communication breakdown somewhere and that’s how it ended up happening,” explained current WLUSU president Kyle Walker, who had a large hand in administering the online elections.
When asked whether the alphabetization was simply a glitch with the technology, Walker assured TheCord that this was not the case. “It was just how the names were given to ITS,” he said. “It was just how they were inputted, but I mean the ITS staff wouldn’t know any better.”
Of the 18 candidates on the ballot for the 2011-12 WLUSU board of directors, three of the bottom six candidates in terms of alphabetical order were not elected.
During the 2010-11 WLUSU election, candidate names were randomized and those not elected to the board were distributed evenly throughout the candidates when ordered alphabetically. Both Walker and chair of the board Kyle Hocking remained confident that despite the lack of randomization of ballots, the results would not be skewed.
“The average student, I guess it’s possible that they could be influenced one way or another,” said Hocking, “But I really don’t see it as a huge issue.”
Walker mentioned the fact that this year students could click on candidates’ names to receive information about them, therefore nullifying any effects of the order of candidates’ names — a sentiment echoed by Hocking when he spoke to The Cord.
“If it was a manual ballot, maybe,” Walker said. “But because you were online and you could click the candidate’s name … we put enough information out there whether it was randomized or alphabetical it shouldn’t have made a difference.”
The lack of randomization of the ballots is not written into policy despite being utilized in previous years, and the issue was not brought up by the WLUSU board of directors.
“It never really came to my attention until [voting] closed,” said Walker. “That’s the way we did it and then afterwards someone had mentioned it to me.”
“Now that the elections are done it’s not something we can go back and change,” said Walker.
In terms of future elections, despite an aversion to re-ordering ballots, Hocking said the issue could possibly be addressed in this year’s post-election review, if decided by the post elections review committee.
“If any of the other board members see an issue than perhaps it’s something that we should look into,” said Hocking. “But personally I’ve never found it to be an issue.”