Election turnout up 38% on last year

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Despite problems with the results for VP (Equality, Welfare & Diversity) and VP (Academic Affairs), the results for the other elections – VP (Sports), VP (Media & Communications/SCAN Editor), VP (Finance, Events, Democracy & Societies), President, and the referendum – were announced as expected.

With the elections for VP (Sports) and President being contested by only one candidate, there were no great surprises when Marc Handley and Robbie Pickles were elected to these positions.

Lizzie Houghton won the position of VP (Media & Communications/SCAN Editor), and Matt Windsor took VP (FEDS).

The referendum – to make sure the students’ union was fully compliant with Charity Commission requirements in preparation for the union’s registration with the Commission in the summer term – was passed. 1,938 votes were cast, representing 14% of the possible electorate. Of this, 1,732 votes were for ‘Yes’ to the changes, with 206 people voting ‘No.’

This year’s turnout had a 38% improvement on last year, with 1,938 people coming out to vote, compared to last year’s 1,402. A large amount of this can be attributed to the introduction of E-voting in the last academic year. As well as this, there was a lot of work put into promoting the voting period, by candidates and member of the Elections Sub-Committee, through campaigning in Alexandra Square and posters around the campus.

Lonsdale had the highest voter turnout of all the colleges, with 28% of students in that college voting in the election. Cartmel and Furness had similar figures, with 26% and 25% turnout, respectively.

Excepting Graduate College, Pendle had the lowest turnout, with just 14%. Bowland had 16% of students turn out to vote, Fylde had 15%. 21% of County students and 20% of students in Grizedale voted.

Graduate College had only a 3% turnout, but due to the problems with the Unique Voter Codes being issued to all members of the college, it is hard to tell whether this is an accurate representation of the possible electorate.

Due to E-voting, and in a change from previous years, it cannot be seen how each college voted for each position, and which candidates won in each college. This is due to privacy restrictions which were imposed on the new system at June 2009’s Union Council, which voted on the introduction of E-voting.

This issue is thought to have been a contributing factor, which led to some of the Graduate College votes having to be discounted.

The results were announced in Barker House Farm, in a change from last year’s location of the Sugarhouse. This location had proved problematic for the media teams, and it was hoped by Elections Sub-Committee that an on-campus location would improve attendance by students.

However, the turnout was low – the majority of people were friends of candidates, JCR Executive officers or people reporting on the event. Matt Windsor was among those to questions to location, asking: “Why are we having a students’ union election in a University building? Why aren’t we having our union elections in our union nightclub to show a sense of solidarity as a group?”

Lizzie Houghton added to this: “At the end of the day, it’s about getting people engaged… and that hasn’t happened tonight.”

Former Cartmel College JCR Executive President, and election winner, Robbie Pickles also spoke of his feelings about the location choice. “I wouldn’t want to see [the results] here [Barker House Farm] again next year,” stating the lack of popularity of the event as the main problem. He continued: “If it’s not a success then there’s no point continuing with it.”

After people were informed about the re-opening of the elections for the two positions in Week Nine, the results were announced from 9.30pm, with the final result for President being announced at 10.30pm.

In a new aspect to the event, a press conference was held after all the results had been announced. Elections Sub-Committee and the Media Working Group decided that it would be beneficial to the candidates and student media alike if this press conference were to take place. The coverage was aired live on Bailrigg FM and was recorded for LUTube.TV.

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1 Comment

  1. “This location had proved problematic for the media teams.”

    I do not agree with that. Bailrigg had no trouble getting the coverage to work and although the cloakroom was cramped – it still provided what we needed. Now that the manual counting has been eliminated, there is no good reason that the press conference could not be held in the smaller room with the party in the big room.

    Also, I think it is unfair to claim that Barker House farm failed as a venue. Many improvements could have been made that would have made it better. I fail to see how it shows ‘solidarity for the union’, as one candidate put it, by holding it in the sugarhouse…

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