With this year’s voter turnout not meeting quorum, what is pushing students away from the polls?
Polls closed for the 2023 UVSS election on March 27, and aside from the unofficial results released two days later, one of the most interesting findings to explore is the voter turnout.
As reported on the UVSS elections Instagram, the 2023 voter turnout was 9.9 per cent of eligible voters. While this wasn’t enough to reach the 15 per cent quorum, turnout has significantly risen from last year by nearly six per cent.
So, with these results in mind, the Martlet took to the quad to ask the average UVic student if they voted, and why.
Sophie Schwartz, a first-year biochem major, did not vote in the election. The main reason why was because she “didn’t really know anything about it, like where to vote, [or] who the candidates were.” Schwartz said that the problem wasn’t that the material wasn’t out there, but that it was hard to find if you weren’t looking. “I feel like when you’re in first year, the easiest thing is just to see what’s posted on Brightspace and if it’s not there, I don’t really see it.”
Scott Magrath, a second-year environmental sciences and geography major, and William Ansdell, an economics major in second year, both opted to not vote in this election as well. When asked why, Ansdell responded: “I haven’t really researched any of the candidates or the issues that much, so I didn’t really feel like participating.”
Magrath shared a similar sentiment. “Personally I don’t know how much it affects me as a student,” he said. “ I haven’t seen [many] changes … I couldn’t even tell you who the last UVSS [directors were].”
First-year psychology major Claire Venevongsa also opted to not vote, her reasoning being: “I was just really confused on what it was . . . I saw the candidates, but I just didn’t really know what was going on. So I didn’t really want to vote for someone who I agreed with or not because I didn’t take the time to get to know them.”
Amelia Powell, a third-year psychology major, did vote in the election. “A friend of mine knows Lane O’Hara Cooke,” said Powell, explaining why she chose to participate. “I actually talked to my one friend who actually knows who she is about it, and they were like, ‘Yeah, Lane actually cares about the school and the UVSS.’ I have no real idea what it does. But I was like, ‘well, I’ll hand the mic over to somebody who does.’”
William Myres, a second-year earth and ocean science major also chose to vote in this year’s election. He said he did because “a lot of candidates had really good, positive things that they wanted to change, which [he] thought were impactful and needed to get done.”
Myres commented that in terms of learning about the candidates, “the only time [he] ever got any information was on the actual voting platform when they had their little description.”
Myres also added that otherwise “the information wasn’t communicated very well, and [he] found it difficult to find.”
It seems a majority of students didn’t vote because of a lack of knowledge about the UVSS, the candidates, or even where and when to vote. However, with finals season upon us, can anything really snatch the attention of students away from final projects and exams and spur them enough to vote?