Online Vote Stirs Tension

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By Joyce Yip

Despite past glitches, Ryerson’s upcoming Board of Governors elections will still be held online.

In last year’s board elections, 113 votes were lost because some candidates’ names were not included on the online ballot. As a result, students had to recast their votes later in the voting week. During the same election, a candidate was accused of hijacking another student’s computer to vote for himself.

And just last month, a computer system prevented several engineering students from voting in elections for Ryerson’s senate.

“I’ve never been a fan of online voting,” said Ryerson Students’ Union outgoing President Nora Loreto. “I don’t think it does an election justice.”

Students will vote on their RAMSS accounts from March 24 to 27.

Loreto argues that technological problems like these make it clear that the school should switch to a traditional ballot method, where a paper trail is left in close elections. She also said that with polling stations, scrutineers can keep a watchful eye on the election’s integrity.

“We’re talking about elections that have pretty low voter response, so these minor differences with people not being able to vote really makes a huge impact on the results,” said Loreto, who suggested increasing voter turnout by holding the board and Senate elections at the same time as the student union elections. “Not to mention there’s something pretty empowering about going to a poll station to vote,” she said.

But not everyone is taking these glitches to heart. Mohammed Halawani, who was elected to the board last year despite the glitches, said online voting steers clear of potential problems with polling clerks and missing ballots.

“I think online is indisputable,” he said. “If there is a problem it can easily be fixed.”

To escape this online-paper debate, the University of Toronto has implemented a double voting system since 2000. Undergraduate students from all three campuses could cast votes online or in ballot boxes.

Ibrahim (Abe) Snobar, the outgoing RSU VP student life and events and Board of Governors members, agrees, citing the RSU’s recent elections.

“It’s a matter of fairness and democracy. Online makes it easy for students; all you got to do is log in and click whoever you like,” he said. “There are always ways you can be creative with the online system. If you like the voting booth, we can have a laptop inside a booth.”

-With files from Amit Shilton

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