Only six per cent of undergraduate students cast their ballots in last week's Students' Union byelection. The byelection ran smoothly, with no online voting issues reported.
The only campus-wide SU race was an events commissioner position. The spot had been vacant since Richard Freeman became the interim vice-president events in Aug. Residence Student's Association VP events Natasha Men, walked away with 54 per cent to win the position.
Last year's SU VP external Julie Labonte captured the humanities representative position in a landslide vote of 80 per cent. Rosie Demian beat a challenger to remain the engineering representative by 65 per cent, while Kate Appleton was declared the new faculty of medicine representative with 60 per cent of the vote.
Teri Cameron, Jillian Erlandson, and Lindsay Faul were acclaimed to the faculty representatives of fine arts, law, and social work respectively.
SU VP events Richard Freeman was acclaimed for the rest of the fall and winter semester. VP events candidate Hardeep Sangha planned to run against Freeman but was disqualified due to an election bylaw violation.
The SU Chief Returning Officer Greg Pastirik explained the acclamation was because Hardeep Sangha was just returning to being a student.
Article 17 (2) of the election bylaw specified candidates running for the president or VP positions must have completed at least one half-course in each of the fall and winter sessions immediately preceding the election. Sangha failed to satisfy this bylaw, so his nomination was declared invalid.
Men explained she is happy about working with SU's three other events commissioners and the VP events.
"I am extremely excited about this opportunity," she said. "The events team is a great group and I can't wait to start working with them."
Men noted her experience as the RSA VP events prepared her for the responsibilities and workload of being an events Commissioner.
"Being [RSA] VP events has given me valuable experience because I've had the opportunity to plan and execute rez-wide events with a team that's set up similarly to the SU events commission," she said.
However, Men explained she was disappointed with the low voter turnout for this year's byelection.
"Unfortunately, byelections do not get a lot of hype around campus because there are fewer people running and fewer positions than the general election," she said. "Also, from what I encountered, a lot of people don't know that you can vote through Peoplesoft as well as on campus."
Labonte shared Men's disappointment about the low turnout.
"Historically, the voter turnouts are low for the byelection," said Labonte. "That isn't an acceptable reason though--[the SU] should be more proactive."
SU president Julie Bogle explained that the timing of the byelection--directly after the municipal election may have had a negative effect on the voter turnout.
"We have tried to take a proactive approach to voter apathy through use of Gauntlet advertisements, the election supplement in the Gauntlet, as well as an e-mail to all current U of C students reminding them to vote, using an election website with links, press releases, U of C website voter links, as well as hosting candidate forums," said Bogle.
Pastirik also noted the turnout was low, but was quick to explain the low number.
"SU byelections tend to have a relatively low number of campus-wide positions contested, which reduces the level of campaigning by candidates," explained Pastirik.
Pastirik also pointed out the positive aspects of this year's byelection, which occured with neither ballot issues nor delays.
"Better co-ordination between myself, Peoplesoft support and CanVote combined with several elections' worth of experience led to improvements in student service," he said.
However, Pastirik explained he is concerned with the usage of Facebook as a campaigning tool, given the changing online environment making the practicalities of online observation and regulating more difficult, therefore making it harder to prevent campaign bylaw violations.
Despite Facebook's usefulness for getting a candidate's message out, Pastirik warned unsolicited electronic mail prevention bylaws still apply to Facebook and candidates should not spam strangers with messages about their campaign.
Pastirik concluded his thoughts with a prediction for the February's SU General Election.
"I have faith that everything will run as smoothly on the technical side of things come the Feb- ruary General Elections," he said.