Low turnout plagues elections

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By Diana Hall

The nomination period for Ryerson’s Student Union elections is underway, but until the campaign begins, students can’t be sure about whether it will spark real change on campus.

“If I learn enough about it, I’ll go vote,” said Josi Smit, a first-year film student. Smit admitted she hadn’t heard about the RSU accepting nominations, and had no idea an election would soon be taking place.

As nominations for RSU candidacy roll in for Thursday’s deadline, students are speculating as to how voter behaviour at Ryerson will effect the final results.

“I think that maybe some people might not be super interested to vote if they don’t live around campus or if they’re not really on campus too much,” she said.

Lack of participation is a big issue for a downtown campus with approximately 24,000 eligible voters.

Rocco Barriuso, a fourth-year film studies student, thinks that while he has seen “pretty low” voter turnouts in previous elections, that more students should feel an obligation to go to the polls for their campus community.

“You know, this is the one chance students actually get to put their voice out there and decide whether they want something at the university,” Barriuso said. “It might not work out the way you want, but this

is an effort we can make, and I think that we’re obligated, almost. Voting is both a right and a duty.”

However Barriuso pointed out there are many people who think that their votes won’t change a thing. “Many people, especially now with our generation, say, ‘Oh well, I’m not going to make a difference. Why am I going to bother voting?’”

RSU President Caitlin Smith said she understands that students lead busy lives and can’t always make time to vote.

“There can always be more effort done to encourage students to vote,” Smith said, saying she is proud of the “higher-than-average” student turnout that saw her get elected last year.

“At the end of the day, if a student is interested and involved, they’re going to seek out that information,” she said.

Last year’s election saw 2, 600 verified ballots cast by students, which was an 11 per cent turnout of full-time undergraduate and graduate student voters.

Daniel Lo is the Chief Returning Officer of the RSU and along with his Deputy Returning officer, he is in charge of raising awareness of the election around campus. They focus most of their awareness efforts on posters, and reaching out to social and campus media outlets. This year, they will also be trying to schedule talks with first-and second-year classes during the campaign period to remind and inform students about the election.

“Voters are encouraged to look at the official candidates and vote for them [based on] who is the best, not by the slate,” Lo said, pushing for students to actively inform themselves once campaigning begins.

Nominations will be verified and announced following an all candidates meeting this Friday.

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