The 2022 General Elections attracted a total of 3,024 casted votes.
On Jan. 22, the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) convened its monthly Board of Directors (BoD) meeting, which is open to all UOSU members.
Included in the agenda was a motion by non-board member Max Christie, to “give students a $1.00 discount on their UOSU membership fees for each election and byelection they vote in for a maximum discount of $2.00 per year.” As per Annex B of the meeting minutes, the “Voter Incentive Program” would have been funded via a $1.50/year levy on all members.
In a statement to the Fulcrum, Christie said he was hoping the program would address the lack of participation from the student body in previous academic years.
“When participation in student politics is as abysmal as we’ve seen, it’s impossible for us to call ourselves a democracy. My proposal was meant as a bandaid solution to this while the Board continues to drag its feet. It’s the same principle behind charging ¢0.05 for a plastic bag at the grocery store — it helps incentivize people when they see that they can save a bit of money by taking 30 seconds to fill out the ballot.”
However, the program along with motions for a “Future Stability Levy,” and “Student Life Levy,” were struck from the agenda, signifying that they had “had no mover or seconder” on the BoD.
“I expected the Board to be uninterested in the motion, but even I was surprised that they decided not to even talk about anything put forward by non-directors,” wrote Christie.
The 2022 General Elections attracted a total of 3,024 casted votes, representing approximately 7.5 per cent of the 40,000 undergraduate students — with rates of abstention in the categories of UOSU president and various Executive Committee positions ringing in at 31.9 per cent, and between 37.8 and 48.6 per cent, respectively.
Christie said he believes the low voter turnout is a benefit to UOSU.
“UOSU isn’t a democracy, and the Board loves it that way. The status quo makes it easier for them to pad their resumes while avoiding actual accountability.”
Though he did not respond to the Fulcrum’s request for comment on the “Voter Incentive Program” and ways to increase student participation in the General Elections, president Armaan Singh said in a previous statement that UOSU remains committed to the well-being of students, and that he is optimistic about the upcoming General Elections for the 2023-2024 academic year.
Voting will take place between March 5 and March 9, 2023.