UOSU ballot box
The University of Ottawa Students Union called a by-election on Sept. 12, for an Oct.12-14, voting period. Image: Hailey Otten/Fulcrum
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A look at the election schedule ahead with UOSU’s elections committee chair and chief electoral officer

The University of Ottawa Students Union called a by-election on Sept. 12, for an Oct.12-14, voting period. The by-election will seek to fill vacant positions on the University Senate as well as UOSU’s Board of Directors (BOD) and Executive Committee. The seats remain vacant due to a lack of candidates in the general election held in March of 2021. 

The University Senate has vacant positions for two student representatives: one from the faculty of health sciences and another from the faculty of education.  

UOSU’s BOD has two available positions in the faculty of engineering, while the faculties of arts, education and common law each have one available seat. 

The only paid position available in this by-election is the equity commissioner role on the UOSU’s Executive Committee. Sana Almansour was appointed back in May to fill the role on an interim basis, but if she wishes to continue her tenure, she will need to win the by-election for this position.

All U of O undergraduate students will be eligible to cast their ballots virtually for UOSU’s equity commissioner while students in the faculties with available seats will vote for their representatives. 

The elections are being overseen by UOSU’s election committee. The committee is made up of current members of the UOSU BOD and chaired by a director from the faculty of social science, Henry Mann. 

Mann summarized the elections schedule, saying “the campaign period will begin on Sunday Oct. 3, and that will go to Sunday Oct. 10. After… [we are] going to have a blackout period, as required, which will be Thanksgiving Monday [Oct. 11] and then the voting period will be Tuesday October 12, and ending Thursday October 14.”

“The unofficial results should be released Friday Oct. 15,” shared Mann. “We’re aiming to have it as soon as possible after the close of the polls, but it might end up being a bit later in the day, given that the polls on Thursday close at 11:59 p.m.”

“Then the results will be ratified by the Board of Directors, we’re expecting this to be done on Oct. 24, at the [BOD] meeting, and then by the University of Ottawa Senate for those positions on Monday Oct. 18, which is their ordinary meeting,” said Mann.

UOSU’s election committee updated the union’s elections code over the summer, sharing a document which includes 31 pages of campaign rules, outlines of voting processes, and explanations of preferential voting. 

Preferential voting requires that, in the event of more candidates than available positions, students fill in a ranked ballot. In the case of one candidate for an available position, students will vote yes/no. 

Other updates to the elections code were made to acknowledge the realities of COVID-19 and the entirely virtual campaign and voting processes that accompany a COVID-19 safe election. 

George Mogambi, the UOSU’s chief electoral officer, stated that his role is to “manage and deliver a credible poll by ensuring the planning, organization, coordination, and logistics are all aligned and ready on Election Day.”  

He is available throughout the election for students to “report any concerns they have and any observations they may make which would have a bearing on the outcome of this election.” 

Mogambi encouraged students to do so if necessary, saying “we all have a civic and moral duty to safeguard democratic tenets and promote good governance both in letter and in spirit.”

Speaking to the consistently low turnout in student elections (and even lower in by-elections), Mann expressed the election committee’s eagerness to work closely with UOSU’s communications team to get the word out about the voting process. 

“We’ve been working quite closely with them and they’ve been fantastic at putting together professional and complete communications that have a lot of great information for students, they go out to student emails as well as on social media, and we have a website set up,” said Mann.

Mogambi spoke to the importance of student participation in the election, saying “they need to know that this is a very important civic duty that serves to ensure they get to have a say in how their Union is run and a voice at the governance table.”

“I urge all our student members to come out in large numbers and cast their votes to elect the representatives they wish to drive the Union’s agenda into the future,” Mogambi emphasized. 

“I assure the entire student community that we are ready and eager to get this going despite the challenging times we live in. I also urge all our students to exercise restraint, be vigilant and assist us to ensure we deliver a credible poll.”