IN THE 2008–09 Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) elections, voter turnout was a record 27 per cent of the undergraduate student population, thanks to the Internet.
The implementation of e-voting in 2009 increased accessibility and interest among the student population. When e-voting was discontinued last year, voter turnout was a low 11 per cent, showing how inferior paper ballots are to e-voting.
To gain the much sought-after participation from students, the electoral office has to indulge voters’ laziness. If we want to engage U of O’s students, we have to do it through their favourite pastime—the Internet.
Every year, SFUO candidates and the elections office spend hundreds of student dollars on posters and flyers, trying to convince students to vote. Not only is it a waste of paper and money, but it’s a waste of time.
The reality is, when a student is bored, he or she will turn to the Internet. For basic information, there’s Google. For the latest news, there’s Twitter. For stalking a friend’s activity, there’s Facebook. And every one of these websites can be used to get students informed about the upcoming election, at the very least.
I’m sure there was a time when postering the walls until you couldn’t see them anymore worked, drawing attention and informing passersby about an event, but not only will I find out more about a candidate by looking them up on the Internet, but I’m much more likely to do that than stop in an overcrowded hallway between classes to read a poster.
That’s exactly why the Fulcrum will provide detailed coverage of the election not only in our newspaper, but through video and social media. And that’s why—if not this year, then the next—the elections office should consider reinstating e-voting.
The SFUO elections need a comprehensive online strategy, complete with e-voting, to gather awareness and participation. Let’s follow the student’s digital footprint, making sure they see #SFUOelxn every time they go online. It’s 2012: Let’s get with the times.