Election process explored as TRU prepares to vote

TRUSU’s general election is just around the corner. Students will have the opportunity to vote for their student representatives on March 30, March 31 and April 1.

Nominations, which require the signatures of 10 other students to be recognized, open on March 9 and close on March 22.

Once the nomination period closes, an all-candidates meeting will take place to inform candidates about campaign rules and processes. TRUSU’s Electoral Committee has rules about campaign finances and promotional materials.

Each candidate must disclose their campaign finances at the end of the campaign to ensure they comply with the campaign spending limit set by the Electoral Committee, which is usually between $50 and $100, said TRUSU Executive Director Nathan Lane.

“It’s designed so that we can say that people have equal access to materials, that you don’t win the election because you’re able to spend $6,000 and the other person isn’t,” Lane said.

The Electoral Committee tracks all campaign promotional materials used, both to ensure they are not over the expense limit and that they are not libelous or offensive.

Candidates can begin campaigning on March 23. Candidates are not permitted to receive resources from any campus organization or club and current Board of Directors members are not allowed to provide Students’ Union resources to any campaign.

Candidates are not allowed to campaign in any business or service owned or operated by the Students’ Union, off-campus, in a class period without the permission of the instructor or in any location where alcohol is served.

TRUSU still uses physical polling stations, despite a trend towards online polling at other universities. In the case of TRUSU’s and many other student government elections, candidates are not allowed to campaign directly in front of the polling station. At universities that have switched to online voting, stopping candidates from directly influencing voters as they cast their ballots is more difficult to do.

At UVic they have been using online polling for five years, but still retain a rule against candidates loitering at polling stations. The Martlet, UVic’s campus newspaper, reported that during campaigning for their 2016 general election, which concluded on March 4, one of the candidate slates set up their own polling station on campus with a laptop connected to the online polling.

Online polling has had a positive impact on voter turnout, which is something TRUSU has struggled with in recent years. The 2015 election had a turnout of only 9.4 per cent, but TRUSU has no plans to do anything drastic to improve that number. Lane said that voter turnout numbers come down to the number of candidates running and how actively they campaign.