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So, congratulations to all the elected officers – and commiserations to those who lost. Undoubtedly many candidates put a lot into their campaigns. Congratulations to LUSU, also, for pulling off an elections period that went smoothly.
But, unfortunately, that is probably the only word I would use to describe it. I fear that the 2013 Full Time Officer elections period will be remembered as the one that no one can remember.
That is no fault of those who organised the elections. It is simply a shame that many candidates failed to push the boundaries with their campaigns. There were some novel ideas – campaign songs being one of them – but when I think of the most memorable moment of the elections period, it is probably That Question at Hustings.
Some candidates simply didn’t seem bothered to want to engage with the student population. This lethargy and lack of novel ideas has been reflected in the voter turnout, which is down for the first time in three years.
Perhaps LUSU elections need to be shaken up to varying degrees. Perhaps the old rite of passage that is Hustings could evolve into General Election style debates. Perhaps things like Block Runs, which it has to be said the vast majority of candidates failed to even turn up to this year, could be turned into designated windows where candidates are encouraged to get out and about, up and down the spine. Maybe performing their campaign songs live in the square? That would at least add a bit of longevity beyond a YouTube video on a Facebook page.
In past elections, candidates were everywhere, particularly on the final day of voting. You couldn’t move for them, but people were engaging with them. In the closing stages of voting this year (admittedly, voting did close at midday which changed the dynamic somewhat), I saw perhaps a handful of candidates out and about.
There is also the point which was made quite suitably by Dan Hogan, ex SCAN Editor, in his post-elections piece back in 2009. He wrote: “Voters, students especially, are more inclined to turn out in an election if they think their vote will count for anything. Ergo, the more certain they are about the result, the less likely it is that they’ll bother to have a hand in it.”
Without intending to demean any campaigns or candidates, perhaps we saw an element of this with almost foregone conclusions for sev- eral of the positions.
It is also important to note that some positions only saw two candidates running. This adds further to the lack of excitement around the election as a whole. Arguably the most exciting race this year was for Vice President (Activities), which coincidentally had the most candidates.
Maybe I’m being too harsh. Maybe the fall in voter turnout is simply a blip that will iron itself out next year. However, I think that if turnout falls any further next year, something will have to be done.