Turnout just shy of 5,000
Out of the 16, 760 students that were eligible to vote in the Wilfrid Laurier Students’ Union elections this year, only 4, 994 votes were actually cast. However, this is only 81 votes less than what last year’s election saw.
Business students cast the most votes this year with a total of 1, 579 votes; Arts students cast 1, 557 votes and science students only cast 1,053. The Brantford campus cast a total of 678 votes.
This year, in order to get more student votes, the elections team went around the Concourse to actively engage with students and help them make informed votes.
“We took a more pro-active approach this year [and] talked to people,” said Jon Pryce, chair of the WLUSU board and chief governance officer. “We had iPads and went around and chatted with them [students], so I’m happy with that, and people were a bit more engaged in that sense.”
While Sean Madden, chief returning officer of the WLUSU elections, said that “hundreds and hundreds” of votes were obtained by engaging one-on-one with students, the goal of reaching 30 per cent of student votes was not reached.
“I hope for the best,” said Pryce. “From what I’ve learned here, being part of the Students’ Union is you have to go to them; you have to go to the students and talk to them and build a relationship with them, and try to be pro-active.”
“Being passive and sitting there doesn’t really help, so being pro-active is what sets you apart, and that’s something that I found really valuable this year.” he continued.
Madden echoed many of Pryce’s sentiments, and also explained that in the end, having more informed votes is what really matters.
“I think the most important thing isn’t the number but rather that the voters were informed voters, and I think we did a pretty good job of covering every angle of the candidates. I’m pretty pleased,” he said.
Madden continued by explaining that there was more positive feedback from students in this year’s elections than in past years because of the ten-foot voting boxes in the Concourse being eliminated.
In past years, it was found that students felt intimidated by the voting space and were not utilizing it properly.
This year, however, by engaging with students on more of a one-on-one level, more votes informed votes were cast, because they could ask questions and get answers during their voting process.
“We tired to push it as much as we could,” said Pryce. “Ultimately we want to make sure that people have an informed vote, and make sure that people take the time to think about stuff and they really see the person that they want [leading] them in the future; that’s what it’s all about.”
However, despite our low voter turnout, Pryce told The Cord that compared to other universities, the number of students voting in the Laurier WLUSU elections is high.
“Out [voter turn-out] is higher than most schools,” he concluded. “Most schools don’t make it to 30 per cent, 29 per cent is impressive; it’s pretty high.”