Here’s how to vote for your favourite candidates
Last year’s University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) election saw a significant drop in voter turnout. In 2021, 6.6 per cent of those eligible to vote participated, down from about 15 per cent in previous years.
Perhaps online classes contributed to this decrease in voter turnout and interest in student politics, but now that most students are back on campus, the UVSS Electoral Office encourages those eligible to cast their votes.
Whether you’re completely new to UVSS politics or if you need a refresher, here is a guide to the basics of voting in the upcoming election.
March 16 marked the beginning of the 2022 campaign period. With the exception of in-class talks, campaigning will take place entirely online this year. Most of the candidate platforms will be available on social media.
There is also the All-Candidates forums which are two different online events taking place on Monday, March 21 where you can hear your candidates’ platforms.The first forum is on Zoom from 2:30-4:30 p.m. with all those vying for lead director and the international student relations positions. The second will be on Reddit with candidates going out for director at large (DaL) positions answering student questions from 6-8 p.m. These are great events to learn more about candidates and start thinking about who represents your values and who you want to vote for.
All current UVic undergraduate students are eligible to cast their votes. You can double-check by looking at your tuition statement. If UVSS fees are included in the breakdown, you’re good to go.
The UVSS Board of Directors is made up of five lead directors, 11 DaLs, and a Director of International Student Relations. In the election, you will be voting to fill each of these positions. The UVSS Board of Directors also has five Advocacy Group Representatives, but these are elected internally by the advocacy groups, not through the general election.
Lead directors are full-time employees of the UVSS, and each has their own unique roles. These positions include the Director of Campaigns and Community Relations, Director of Finance and Operations, Director of Events, Director of Outreach and University Relations, and Director of Student Affairs.
If you’re an international student, you will also vote for a Director of International Student Relations. They are responsible for acting as chair for the International Student Relations Committee.
DaLs are each assigned to a lead director’s portfolio. They participate in committees, organize events and campaigns, and lobby various levels of government on behalf of students. They also hold lead directors accountable.
While DaLs are required to work fewer hours per week than lead directors, both play an important role in decision making and representing student interests. All board members attend meetings twice per month and vote on policy changes and financial decisions, so it’s important to do your research and vote carefully for each position.
In addition to electing a Board of Directors, the election also includes a referendum question to which you will vote yes or no. A referendum question allows voters to influence decisions by voting for or against a policy or fee change. In order to pass, a 15 per cent quorum must be met, which means that 15 per cent of eligible voters must participate, and the majority of votes must be in favour.
This year, the referendum question is: “Are you in favour of establishing a fee of $1.50 per full-time student per semester and $0.75 per part-time student per semester, starting in September 2022 and ending in August 2027, to evaluate and fund environmental sustainability initiatives for the UVSS (including, but not limited to: hardware, software, new windows, heat pumps, the recycling program, solar panels and student-led initiatives)?”
Voting runs from 9 a.m. on March 23 to March 25 at noon and only takes place online. The UVSS uses UVic’s Webvote system.
You can access the system at http://webvote.uvic.ca/ or through the link on the UVSS Electoral Office website by clicking on “Ready to vote”. Once you’re on the website, you’ll need to log in with your netlink ID and password. The system will check your eligibility and walk you through voting for each position on the UVSS Board of Directors and the referendum question.
According to the electoral office website, results are typically announced the day voting closes, so March 25 this year.
If you are looking for ways to stay involved with the UVSS after the election, board and general meetings are open for students to attend. Board meetings take place twice a month and take care of smaller decisions, while general meetings happen twice a year and are where members bring forward bigger changes to UVSS bylaws.