AUU moves to quasi-online student elections
Words by Felix Eldridge
Last night the AUU Board voted to move student elections to a quasi-online election format.
What this entails is rather than physical ballot papers, there would be voting conducted by iPads, laptops or other related devices. However, rather than implementing a system where students could vote from their homes via a link, students will still be required to come onto campus and physically vote in a booth.
AUU Vice President Angus Heaton explained that the decision was reached for several reasons, including reducing the cost of elections by getting rid of ballot papers, improving the AUU’s sustainability credentials by reducing paper usage, and also to prevent double voting, an issue which was prevalent in the 2019 student elections.
While online student elections have previously been considered, and a fully online system was proposed by Director Wauchope as recently as May this year, they have been rejected and as such, this is the first time that even a partial online election proposal has been accepted by the Board. While this model does not cover those students who are still stuck overseas or who cannot come to campus for medical reasons, it is likely to improve the safety and efficiency of the elections generally.
Executive Officer Gary Sutherland assured the Board that the Returning Officer would have broad discretion to make alternative arrangements if there were issues with the devices, and that there would be spare devices available at booths. In addition, it was stated at the meeting that sanitising an iPad after use was safer, particularly for staff, than collecting multiple ballot papers that must be handled by several people.
The rules still require a second approval from the Board as per AUU rules and final concurrence from University Council, however it appears that the AUU has acknowledged that online elections represent the future and that these rules will be approved in full by both bodies.
Disclaimer: Felix ran as a ‘Unite’ candidate in the 2019 student elections.