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UNBSU by-election receives 7% voter turnout

Although the results of the UNBSU by-election are not available because of a system glitch, voter turnout was clocked at 7 per cent. And despite the UNB Student Union sending out two emails and posting on their social media accounts, some feel that the by-election was not promoted correctly.

The voting period for UNBSU by-elections—which contains votes for senators and yes-no votes on indigenous and education councillors, ended on Oct. 13.

Though the Student Union did promote this election, it may have been too late, as many of their posts and emails were within the voting period rather than preemptive.

The UNBSU sent out two emails to advertise the by-election voting period, one on the final day of the voting period. On Facebook, there were two posts about the election period, only one of which was posted prior to the election. On Twitter, there was only one post advertising the voting period, and it was posted during the voting period. While two other Facebook posts and one Twitter post advertised the by-election in September, these posts were for the nomination period, specifically.

This was opposed to the six Facebook posts and three Twitter posts that advertised the UNBSU’s rebrand that was announced early last week.

Although the by-election saw only 369 student vote—7 per cent of eligible voters—UNBSU president Herbert Bempah said that the by-elections have typically had a lower turn-out—with the Oct. 2015 by-election achieving a whopping 1.2 per cent.

Last year’s by-election saw a 23.1 per cent voter turnout, but Bempah pointed out that the vote count was brought up by including a plebiscite (yes/no vote) regarding a fall reading week.

Bempah was optimistic that this year’s plebiscite regarding Open Educational Resources would have a similar effect on this by-election.

“There’s certainly more that we can do—but we absolutely tried in terms of announcing to everybody about the by election and the plebiscite. We have an opportunity to send emails to students once a week. We’ve sent two emails: we sent one last week and this morning [Friday] we finalized one, our last email,” said Bempah.

Unfortunately, many students weren’t aware of the by-election.

“No, I’ve never heard of it,” said Curtis Brewster, a third-year Media Arts and Cultures major.

One source of confusion surrounds the voting period’s end-date. Despite the official date being Oct. 13, the Student Union’s marketing and executive teams mistakenly handed out cards with the final voting day listed as Oct. 15. A Facebook post on the UNBSU page also gave Oct. 12 as the end date.

Another incident occurred when the results were supposed to be posted on e-services on Oct. 14. Due to a system glitch, the results were still not available by time of print.

With regard to this, Bempah said the Student Union will be calling ITS and working to have the results up on Monday, Oct. 16.

Students should still participate in the election process

Senate candidate Jeremy Slayter believes that the UNBSU has made improvements when it comes to the actual voting process, which is done through e-services.

“Voting in the elections has never been easier—it takes only a second to vote. This is important, because it is not a time consuming process for students to have the opportunity to actively participate in the process to improve the university by selecting the best candidates that will advocate effectively for desired policies and services,” he said.

Another senator candidate, Olivia Hamilton, said that while she wanted to promote herself through her campaign, she also wanted to share a message about voting and its importance.

“Through voting, students have an opportunity to learn about the positions and candidates—and ultimately getting the student voice represented in the decisions that affect us as UNB students. It’s exciting and relevant.”

Herbert Bempah said that he understands that students have a lot going on, but that it’s important to actively participate in these matters.

“When it comes to matters like this when we’re asked to select leadership for our organization—not just mine, but everybody’s organization because everybody is a part of the Student Union—it’s really important that we pay attention to, and carefully select, the people we want to represent our organization.”


Editor’s Note: The Brunswickan often helps to advertise the UNBSU by-elections by publishing profiles and photos of each of the candidates. Although we reached out to the Chief Returning Officer prior to the end of the nomination period, we received the list of candidates during election week instead of at the beginning of the campaign period, which meant that we didn’t have time to do the profiles this year.

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