By Ashar Memon, February 1 2018 —
The University of Calgary Students’ Union is considering introducing a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ ballot for candidates running unopposed in SU elections, according to SU president Sagar Grewal.
The change won’t be implemented in time for this year’s upcoming SU general election, but could go into effect for a potential November byelection this year, Grewal said. If there is no November byelection, the ballot could be introduced for the 2020 SU general election.
“I think there’s a lot of interest in exploring this as we currently don’t have the ‘yes/no’ vote on acclamations,” Grewal said. “It’s actually a research priority for our research assistants.”
Last year, nine candidates for the 27 positions up for grabs were acclaimed to their positions, including Grewal. If implemented, students will be able to vote either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a candidate running unopposed in an election. The candidate would have to receive a majority ‘yes’ vote in order to take their position.
‘Yes’ or ‘no’ votes for individual candidates were abandoned by the SU in 1996, when the Students’ Legislative Council approved a shift to acclamations in election bylaws. The SU has since rebuffed calls for re-introducing the ballot.
“No one lost a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote. Students didn’t vote ‘no’, they voted ‘yes,’ ” one SU analyst said in 2000, when two executive positions were acclaimed.
According to Grewal, the SU aims to conduct and finalize research on details of the policy by April, at which point it would be sent to SLC for a vote. He added that the SU has yet to begin their research.
“We didn’t want to rush it, just because of how soon the election policies have to be decided for the general election for this year,” Grewal said. “We want to make sure that we did a pretty thorough research investigation into what other students’ unions and student associations are doing across the country.”
In previous interviews with the Gauntlet around the time of his acclamation, Grewal said he supported looking into changing policy around acclamations in order to increase student engagement. He emphasized in this recent interview, however, that the SU has to examine a potential ‘yes’ or ‘no’ policy more carefully.
“I think if it’s a chance to give students an opportunity to voice their opinion on elected officials, that’s a great opportunity because that’s what we should be striving to do in all elections,” Grewal said. “However, I would really like to see what are some of the downsides that [student associations] have seen with it, or whatever the other side of the story might be. Because I think that’s the perspective I currently, unfortunately, don’t really know.”