Running a fair and flawless university election is no small task. Last year's explosion of controversy surrounding the online voting system just goes to show that a plethora of potential problems are just waiting to blow your results into unusable territory.
This is where the people behind the election come into play. Newly appointed Chief Returning Officer Tom O'Neill is happy to be coming off his first successful election. The 2004 By-Election came to a close on Oct. 21, paving the way for an upstanding General Election come this spring.
"I'm very happy with the way it turned out," said O'Neill. "I think we did a really good job. My staff was unbelievable. CanVote, our new service provider, worked exactly the way it's designed to work. That was a big relief given the problems we had last year."
After last year's complications, a lot of research went into putting a reliable online voting system into place. The end result was rather costly, raising the By-Election's budget by several thousand in comparison to last year. According to O'Neill, the change was well worth it.
"We did a lot of research to decide which program to go with," said O'Neill. "CanVote is Ontario-based, and they've done [several] successful municipal elections. Their reputation is flawless; there's never been a problem with any of those elections and that's really hard to find, because there are potentially a lot of things that can go wrong. So it's not like we just went with the most expensive system provider, it took a lot of [research and negotiation]. We don't want to waste student's money."
Unfortunately, not even the shiny new online voting system could save the By-Election from the eternal plague that is voter apathy. Less than five per cent of the student population cast ballots, which makes for about 1,000 votes in a population of roughly 25,000.
With a shift of focus to student apathy. O'Neill was optimistic about the winter General Election.
"We're shooting for 40 per cent," said O'Neill, encouraging the student body to get involved and support the democratic process. "Run in the general election next February. There are many positions available and they pay good money. But if you don't run, then pay attention to each candidates' campaign, so you can make an educated vote."
Anyone interested in helping O'Neill run the next election can drop by the SU office for an application. The deadline for submitting applications is Fri., Nov. 26.