BREAKING: Student elections moved fully online
Words by Felix Eldridge
In a special meeting held at 10pm last night (29th August), the AUU Board resolved to move elections completely online for this coming student election period.
Previously, the AUU Board had adopted a quasi-online election format where students would vote using devices such as laptops and iPads. However, students were still required to physically attend a polling booth on campus. Crucially, students located overseas or interstate would be unable to vote, nor would students who were physically unable to reach campus due to travel restraints or illness.
On Dit understands that the AUU was attempting to implement a hybrid online system where international students stuck overseas could vote online, whereas domestic students would be required to attend the ballot booths in-person. This suggestion was apparently rejected by AUU staff on the grounds that it was either infeasible to operate or would harm the credibility of the election results.
This follows a previous decision by the Board to delay student elections. Normally, such elections are held in Week 6 of Semester 2. However, because changes to the election rules were made after the appointment of a Returning Officer, the amendments to the election rules could not be accepted and the Board was forced delay the election to the week beginning October 19th.
Of interest is the fact that the Board had rejected multiple proposals for fully online elections offered by Directors Wauchope, Shaw and Jayasuriya since May, and it is only now implementing the recommendations less than two months from the elections.
On Dit understands that these Directors requested fully online elections for two reasons: it would allow students to safely socially distance during election week, and would also ensure that all students, including those overseas and interstate, would be able to vote.
The AUU however will also provide a physical option for voters who seek to vote in person by coming onto campus and booths will be provided for this purpose.
In any case, history has been made as this is the first ordinary student election cycle that will be held fully online, and depending on the success of this format, it may mean all future elections will be held online as well.
The article was amended to include new information about accessibility of in person voting
Felix ran as a ‘Unite’ candidate in the 2019 student elections.