SA byelections to include online voting

Director of education hopeful that campaigns will still be campus-centered under hybrid model

In the upcoming Student Association (SA) byelections, students will have two options to cast their ballot; in person at polling stations on campus, and for the first time in the history of the organization, online.

The SA funds The Dialog.

The move to allow online voting follows a recommendation last spring from Charles Wilson, who was the chief returning officer (CRO) for the SA’s general election. Wilson said that the online option will help engage students who are mostly off campus as part of their programs.

“Those students, if we just operate in-person polling stations with paper ballots would not necessarily be able to vote and shape the future of their Student Association,” he said. “This is giving them an opportunity to do so.”

Wilson is back as the CRO for the upcoming byelections.

Tiffany White, the SA’s director of education, also thinks that having online voting will allow students to vote who can’t make it to their campus during regular hours.

But White is concerned that online voting will cut down the face time students and candidates have during campaigns.

“I hope that the campaign strategies are still very much campus-centered, so that there is still the expectation that candidates should be on the campuses promoting themselves,” she said.

White considers the hybrid voting a pilot program and wants to remain open to changing the system if it doesn’t work.

“This (election) will basically set the tone on whether or not it’s a good idea for future elections,” she said.

The SA has entered a one-year agreement with Simply Voting, the election software company which developed the system.

According to the company, the platform has already been used by over 1,500 customers, including the University of Toronto Students’ Union, Mohawk Students’ Association and the Ontario Provincial Police Association.

The new voting system will cost $6,401. The previous system, which was provided by Instavote Systems and did not include online voting, cost $3,803 during last year’s elections.

According to the company’s proposal, Simply Voting has security features which include encrypted communications, daily server security scans, and adherence to best security practices for web software.

Students can vote in the upcoming election between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2.

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SA byelections to include online voting