UMSU’s board of directors gave the green light for two changes to its elections and referendum manual proposed by the UMSU governance committee at its Jan. 16 meeting. The changes include shortening the voting period and allowing candidates to use their preferred name in their candidacy.
Candidates will now have the option to be nominated using their preferred name and forgo the use of their legal name when running for UMSU office.
The amount of time students will have to vote will be reduced from three days to two in accordance with the changes to the governing documents moved by the governance committee.
According to the motion, the third day of voting “places undue anxiety and stress on candidates and slates” and “the third day of voting has a minimal impact on results.”
“In consultations with previous running members during nomination period, it’s been very taxing on them emotionally,” said UMSU governance committee chairperson Eric Schillberg at the meeting.
“Voting on the third day generally sees less students [voting] due to the timing of the day, ending at 4 p.m.”
UMSU president Jakob Sanderson echoed Schillberg’s reasoning in an email.
“By that third day candidates are quite fatigued, have often had to miss classes and fall behind on work, so the long campaign period really does dissuade some talented candidates from wanting to run,” he said. “Voters are also weary of being talked to multiple times in the hallways and messaged on all their social media platforms. They want to get back to real life.”
Sanderson added that he believed there is a consistent lack of voters on the third day in past UMSU elections.
“There are significantly less voters on day three — it usually follows a roughly 60-30-10 split,” he said.
“Many of these voters will likely vote day one or day two if they know day three is no longer an option. By this point, students and candidates will still have nine days to interact with one another and two full days to have the chance to cast their vote.”
Last year’s UMSU elections had a particularly high voter turnout of 28.5 per cent.
When asked whether the move may be perceived as undemocratic, Sanderson replied that he did not think it was, though he understood the concern.
Nominations for this year’s UMSU elections will be taking place starting Feb. 3 and ending Feb. 14, with nomination packages available at the UMSU and CRO offices (101 UMSU University Centre and 102-O University Centre, respectively). Voting will open March 4 at 8:30 a.m. and close March 5 at 4:30 p.m.