By Farnia Fekri
The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) held their first Board of Directors meeting of the year on Sept. 30, when they amended their existing bylaws to add online voting to their elections.
According to the meeting and amendment, the voting will be established using the Ryerson RAMSS system, and will see polling stations feature computers instead of ballots.
Students will also be able to vote from their personal laptops, which RSU President Andrea Bartlett said she hopes will “provide greater accessibility to [RSU] membership.”
The RSU will attempt to have online voting in place in time for the November by-elections — which will fill vacated seats by electing a TRSM director, a deputy chairperson finance and a deputy chairperson student life and events. If not by November, Bartlett said online voting will definitely be in place for the RSU executive and directors’ elections at the end of the year.
“I’m hoping that [the switch] addresses or starts a conversation around voter apathy,” Bartlett said. “And that it allows us to communicate the importance of why students should vote.
Online voting has been debated in past years, but has never been approved until now. Even after this meeting, the change will have to be approved by students at the next semi-annual general meeting.
An issue brought forward at the meeting was the reliance on a university system — which might threaten the independence of the union — but vice-president operations Obaid Ullah dismissed the problem by saying that “the university will have no say in [the elections].”
Ullah said the RAMSS-facilitated voting will be performed in the same way as the RSU-dedicated levies (counted as part of the total tuition of each student) or the health and dental plan refunds — both of which are charged to student accounts by the university but handled directly by the RSU.
Also included in the amendment is a “contingency plan” in case of technical difficulties, or as Bartlett said, “in the event that we break the internet.”
In this case, paper ballots will be made available at polling stations.
Another motion passed at the meeting was the implementation of a Ryerson Student Representative Bodies Council.
This council will include representatives from the RSU, the Ryerson Commerce society, the Ryerson Communication and Design Society, the Ryerson Engineering Students’ Society, the Ryerson Science Society and the Ryerson Arts Society.
Though the group will have no voting powers, Bartlett said this is a new step forward to ensure that “a friendly working relationship exists between the students’ union and the societies” in order “to empower student leaders on campus.”
Ullah added that the participation of these groups in such meetings will be completely up to them.