ASFA to Revamp Election Rules, Again

After 33 per cent Decrease in Voter Turnout, Political Parties Likely Making a Comeback

Another Arts and Sciences Federation of Associations election has come and gone. And less expected than the results were the effect that new electoral rules played on the election process and overall turnout.

New rules were put in place this year in response to last year’s scandal-plagued election, which saw candidates in tears, calling lawyers to complain of bullying tactics from opposing sides.

The rules were changed this year so that candidates had to run individually and not in teams, as had been the practice in past elections. The thought was that if individuals had to campaign against one another it would cut out the bullying tactic of teaming up en masse against people as was seen last year.

The bullying was certainly cut out this year due to the rule change, but the election also saw a 33 per cent decline in voter turnout and not all of the positions had people running for them.
“That’s a significant decrease,” says Nick Cuillerier, ASFA’s chief electoral officer. He says that the rule change is “definitely attributable to the fact that there were less candidates running. We went from 28 candidates running last year to 12 this year.

“Despite the decrease in the actual total vote, if you look at the actual votes per candidate divided by the amount of candidates running, there’s actually a 70 per cent increase. That is something noteworthy,” he said.
Cuillerier doesn’t believe that the rules will stay the same for next year.

“We’re going to be looking at a system that includes both affiliations and a fair playing ground for individual candidates that will be revealed at next Thursday’s ASFA council meeting,” he said.

He also noted he was disappointed that no one ran for VP Communications and the third available Independent Councillor position. What’s more, only three of the seven executive positions were contested. Cuillerier suggested that ASFA create a policy whereby empty positions can be advertised so that students are more aware of opportunities to run.

Besides eliminating bullying tactics from the election, Cuillerier noted that there were other positive changes seen in this year’s election.

“[A major positive change was] moving the polling station at Loyola to just outside the library. That polling station was a huge success. It was the second most popular polling station on campus.”

Another change that got positive feedback was the availability of the 150-word executive summaries on each of the candidates available at all polling stations.

“At Loyola, 70 per cent of voters looked at the executive summary. At SGW, 40 per cent looked at the executive summaries. That means a total of over 500 people actually looked at the executive summaries before voting,” he said.

This article originally appeared in Volume 31, Issue 24, published March 7, 2011.