Electoral reforms to be voted on

(Graphic by Steph Truong)
(Graphic by Steph Truong)

This year, students voting in the Wilfrid Laurier University Student’s Union elections will not only be choosing their next president or board of directors — they will also be voting to change the way that elections are carried out.

Matt Casselman, one of the directors on the WLUSU board of directors, has proposed some electoral reforms regarding how students would vote in future elections on campus.

“Right now, candidates are elected using the first past the post voting system, and so the changes I’m looking to implement involve an alternative voting system for the president and for board [of directors] candidates,” he explained.

Instead of first past the post, he wants to see a system called “single transferrable votes” used for the director candidates, and a “ranked ballot” system used for multi-member seats, which would be used for presidential candidates.

“They’re essentially sort of the same idea,” said Casselman. “Voters will rank candidates by preference of best to worst, and they can rank one candidate or all the candidates, the order will be determined by who they want most in the seat.”

“It does allow voters to say in a world where their most preferred candidate doesn’t win, why couldn’t they throw their support behind their next preferred candidate,” he continued.

With this new system, Casselman hopes that candidates running in the WLUSU elections will be better represented, and common issues that occur during student elections will be overcome.

With student elections, some people tend to vote for whoever is first on the ballot, or if they have an appealing name.

With the new systems, however, students will be able to rank people from best to worst depending on their platforms, rather than for arbitrary reasons.

“I think those problems are mitigated when you have an alternative voting system, so I’m very confident that in a university it will pass,” he said.

While Casselman believes this new voting system will benefit all aspects of future WLUSU elections, he also emphasized that it should ultimately be up to the students to decide.

“I’m worried that the ‘no’ side won’t have a representative to sort of advocate for anyone who may not want this to pass, so I do think that that dialogue is important … [and] I think it’s important for students to consider both options,” he explained.

Casselman also emphasized how this new system would allow students to vote for who they want to win, rather than be forced to vote strategically against people they don’t necessarily want to succeed.

Caitlin Mulroney, a second-year WLU student, told The Cord that this is a system she would like to see take effect.

“I’d actually prefer ranking them, because then you get a better idea of what [candidate] the students are gravitating towards,” she said.

“That way you don’t get just the one person, you get an idea of who ranked where.”

Casselman concluded by explaining that these reforms were something he proposed in his platform last year while running for a position within the board o directors.

“I made it clear to the people that voted for me this year that this is a change that I wanted to ensure happened.”

*This story has been updated since its original publishing date*

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