Online voting a success; only part of the solution

Last Thursday and Friday the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU) had its first experiment in online voting and, to the surprise of many, it was a tremendous success.

Voter turnout skyrocketed to 35 per cent, placing Laurier in the forefront of student election turnout in the province. However, we have not yet reached the level of other schools that utilize online voting such as Western, who in 2010 had an election turnout of close to 40 per cent.

In addition to the solid voter turnout, the online voting system was practically flawless. It was quick and user-friendly to the point where you were confused at how this technological feat was possible at Laurier.

The success of the online voting should not encourage passivity amongst those involved in WLUSU. For starters, it is unclear what will happen to voter turnout once the novelty of online voting wears off. To ensure gains made do not recede both the current and incoming board of directors and president need to continue engaging students in the months to come. As current vice president: university affairs Saad Aslam pointed out, all too often the engagement ends after election day.

More voting also doesn’t mean more informed voting. Directors and executive members need to actively engage students not just for the purpose of participating in elections, but to bring them into, what seems to many, a clique in WLUSU and inform them of the activities and initiatives of the union. WLUSU president-elect Nick Gibson’s tangible promises for transparency, such as the public posting of meeting minutes and other documents outside of in-camera sessions is a good first step. More needs to be done.

Again, congratulations to the election team for building some much needed momentum for student engagement. For the rest of WLUSU: don’t screw it up.