The Feds election is over and the abysmally low turnout might be more headline-worthy than which candidates won. It is certainly worth a conversation. This year saw a turnout of five per cent, which is half of the turnout of recent years.
Fluctuations in voter turnout are normal, but a 50 per cent drop is something to worry about. I hesitate to attribute the drop in voter turnout to a single source since there are multiple players in the election.
The first question has to be asked of Feds. This was a year with many hiccups in the election process. From the nomination period to the voting period, their online system faced issues and complaints. It is obvious that if students cannot use the voting system without problems, voters will become discouraged. With a system outage on top of the many individual issues faced, this played a factor in the turnout.
We also have to ask how effective Feds’ advertising effort was. It is hard to quantify how much marketing effort was made in comparison to past years, only they will know. But there seemed to be little awareness of the election on campus. Our own “Campus Question” segment a couple of weeks ago revealed that many students had no idea about the election. For Feds, this embarrassingly low turnout has to be worrying for their credibility. Representing students requires being able to engage them.
The next group that is responsible for voter turnout is the candidates. Their whole effort for two weeks is to engage students in the election. Low turnout begs a question for them: did they fail to reach out to students or did their ideas just not interest students? Again the candidates themselves can best quantify their efforts and the students can tell us if they were interested in the issues addressed. And maybe they did.
Additionally, we must ask ourselves at Imprint if we provided the right kind of coverage to help students make an informed decision. We had election coverage online and in print that aimed to provide unbiased and informative content. The group who can best tell us if we succeeded is you, the reader.
The incoming Feds exec team will need to tackle this issue if Feds is to remain a credible organization. Other schools achieve higher turnout, so this can’t just be simply written off as students being unengaged.
Imprint Assistant News Editor