When the polls close at noon on Feb. 6, this year’s KSA elections will be the first to have been conducted exclusively online.
Unlike previous elections, which occurred only on one day and involved physical ballot boxes and voting booths, voting will be conducted online from noon on Jan. 31 to noon on Feb. 6.
But there are concerns among KSA Executive Board members that the door for breaking the rules is wide open.
KSA Director of Academic Affairs, Brad Head, sees problems with the online voting system, predicting a lower voter turnout. “Many students don’t vote already… many students don’t go onto their myKwantlen account,” he said.
Head is also concerned about cheating.
Since voting traditionally took place at stationary voting booths in years past, computers that will now be used for voting are required to be “stationary.” In other words, candidates are barred from simply walking around campus with a laptop and asking people to vote.
KSA Director of Finance, Shanal Prasad, has similar concerns.
“There is so much potential for things to go wrong,” he said. “What if a group of people have a giant party and they have a laptop there and they get all their friends to come and vote?”
KSA Director of External Affairs, Matt Todd, said it’s also against the rules for a candidate to walk around and offer candy bars in exchange for votes, something that was just as likely under the paper-balloting system.
“We already live with that risk, we just have different packaging on the risk,” Todd said.
(The distribution of food and drink is a violation listed in KSA elections Regulations document on their website and candidates are held responsible for the actions of supporters. According to KSA regulations, “the candidate accepts full responsibility… that any offenses committed by campaigners shall be deemed to be offences committed by the candidate.”)
As for benefits, Todd said it is much cheaper to put the vote online. And because it is cheaper, it is possible to run the election over more days and, he hopes, capture more voters. As well, there are no “bad ballots” online, and tabulation of votes is automatic.
This year, there are 59 candidates running for various positions in the KSA. This is the largest number of candidates to have run in a single election at Kwantlen. “It means people are paying attention and actually care enough to participate,” Todd said.
An audio-slideshow that asks questions about how students feel about student government and life at Kwantlen.
Tomorrow (Thursday) will be the final day Kwantlen students can cast their vote in this year’s Kwantlen Student Association’s general election.
“Richmond is always really busy,” said Fran Schiffner, whose company oversees elections at the different Kwantlen campuses. “I think it’s because of where it is. It’s all in one building…I think there’s more exposure.”
Shiffner said this election has seen less of a voter turnout then in previous years.
“The last few [years] we’ve run out of ballots,” said Alice Rush, who works for Schiffner. “We need to get more people out to vote.”
Both women believe mid-terms and the Olympics may be distracting students from showing up.
Voting will be open until 7 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) and tomorrow, at Richmond and Langley campuses. Voting closed Tuesdays at Cloverdale and Surrey.
The Kwantlen Student Association by-election will kick off Monday in Cloverdale, with 17 students vying for 22 positions. The by-election will also be held in Surrey Tuesday, Richmond Wednesday and Langley Thursday, with polling open from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Because of the lack of nominations this year, nine uncontested positions will be decided by a straight yes-or-no vote and an additional three will be left empty. There were no nominations for the women’s liaison, the First Nations student representative or the Newton-Cloverdale campus council position.
All candidates were asked to provide a 100-word statement on why they are best fit for the position. They are included below (courtesy of the KSA).
Director of Events and Student Life (vote for one)
- Vanessa Knight: In the three short months that I was Acting Director of Event, I really only had time to carry out the plans already layed out by my predecessor. I would like to hold more age-appropriate events for Kwantlen Students, such as club nights, polar tournaments and Banghra nights, as well as awareness and cause-oriented events like SEXPO, Love Your Body Week and an Environmental Fair. Iâ€™m also interested in the influence I would have as a member of Council, and helping in decisions regarding the U-Pass and KSA policy. Most of all I would like to help build a functional and exciting student life for Kwantlen.
- Ritesh Maisuria: I would like to run for the position of Vice President of Events and Student Life, because I feel I would be able to improve the quality of events thrown and be able to better publicise them. This includes pub/club nights, fundraisers and on-campus events. I would like to help bring up student morale on all the campuses, giving students something more look forward to besides just their classes.
- Meirna Said: I would like to get most of the students involved in creating and suggesting events they would like to see happening in their university. Iâ€™ve had experience putting successful events outside the KSA and I volunteered helping the KSA with their events. Iâ€™m very passionate about creating a student life within our university. If youâ€™d like to see a better change in events and student life, vote for me and give me a chance to create change.
Surrey Campus Representative (vote for up to four)
- Harmon (Sean) Bassi: I have always had a strong interest towards political structure teams. When I think of student council, I think of a team containing healthy bright people who come together and produce a various amount of activities that ensure every student at the school leaves with good memories. Having someone leaves with good memories is something I would enjoy being responsible of and will do anything in power to ensure this certain goal.
- Will Davies: I am running for Campus Council Representative, primarily, because I want to work. I found out about the position through searching for work on campus and I believe this willingness to work will come through as a Campus Council Representative. If elected, I would not shy away from putting in the extra hours in order to represent the Surrey campus.
- Harman Mann: I’m running for Surrey Campus Rep, so I can represent students and fulfill there desires with activities they enjoy doing. Also through events to keep our campus more lively and, most important, make it fun for my student friends at Kwantlen. I think I make a good Campus Rep because Iâ€™m well-organized, intelligent and easy-going.
- Kari Michaels: Iâ€™m a second year student and Iâ€™m pretty awesome. I have been working as staff on the Surrey Campus Council for the past 6 months. In that time Iâ€™ve attended Council meetings, planned the Fall Welcome Event, movie festivals in the lounge and helped with other events. As a student, Iâ€™ve attended meetings of the Student Issues and Action Committee, the Events and Communications Committee and the Pride Commission. Iâ€™m actively involved in KSA activities and itâ€™s important that students have that representation. Vote for me, I do stuff!
- Harshil Pala: I believe that the KSA plays an amazing role in student life at the Surrey Campus. However, many students are not taking advantage of the services offered by the association, nor are they participating in the various events that are organized for them. My goal is to find out what it will take to better student life and involvement at the Surrey Campus. Also, I will fight to give students a voice in the planning process of anything in which they are affected.
Surrey Campus Officer (yes/no vote)
- Bhupinder Mandair: I have always been the type of person that wants to help people in any way possible. I come from a politically active background and understand the issues that face our age demographic. There are numerous challenges facing students especially in times of economic uncertainty. Issues that are important to me including decreasing tuition & textbook fees as well as ensuring equal opportunities for all students. I believe this is an excellent opportunity to make a direct and immediate difference.
- Jonathan Yaniv: Currently I am volunteering on/off with the KSA as student. I helped out quite a bit with the referendum to leave the Canadian Federation of Students. Just recently, I volunteered to sell tickets for the amazing event CramJam III. As a campus officer, I will be able to help out with events, help make events rock. The next event that I hope to help with is SHAFT. As an officer, I have more say in what the students want. I have a voice for the students. Right now, I have a voice for only myself. With me as campus officer, your voice will be heard!
Langley Campus Officer (yes/no vote)
- Jared Busse: As a first-year student, I share the feeling of other first-years, a little overwhelmed. Getting involved in the KSA, after getting settled into the university life, was one of my top goals. Involvement is key in university to enjoy the full experience, and I wish to make sure everyone gets involved. Expanding one’s horizons is imperative today. I want to help myself and others to do just that. Please vote for involvement, for Jared Busse as Campus Council Officer.
- Rachel Vanags: Running as an officer, I believe that I can speak for students, offer them help, and offer better representation during Council and within the school.
- Ashley White: I would like to make students more aware of the services provided to them by the KSA, and assist the campus representatives and director in providing these services. I would also like to serve as a way for the students to be heard by presenting their issues, concerns and wishes to the Campus Council. I have often heard students say that they don’t know how to gain access to services or give input, and I would like to make them more aware of how to do these things. I can assist both planning and running KSA campus event.
Richmond Campus Representative (yes/no vote)
- Andrew Kochhar: As a Richmond Rep I believe I can make a change on the Richmond Campus and help students with their day-to-day questions and concerns. I also believe I can help throw events and make the KSA a more student-friendly environment.
Students With Disabilities Liaison (yes/no vote)
- Ken McIntyre: Raising the profile of the issues that affect students with disabilities is an ongoing process. I enjoy connecting with the campus community and want to continue to be a strong voice for students with disabilities at Kwantlen. Kwantlen offers good services to students with disabilities and I want to keep it that way. If elected I will continue to provide feedback to Kwantlen on behalf of students with disabilities to continue to improve the services the school and the KSA offer.
Students of Colour Liaison (yes/no vote)
- Keshanth Sivayogampillai: As a student in Canada for 10 years, I have witnessed discrimination on many levels, and it is my hope that as your Student of Colour Liaison, I can aid those of you who have faced these issues first-hand. In my position, I will offer support and do everything in my power to resolve any conflicts related to race discrimination.
Mature Students Liaison (yes/no vote)
- Robert Kovacic: I am not running simply to make promises I canâ€™t follow through with, and Iâ€™m definitely not going to give things away so that youâ€™ll vote for me. If elected to the post of Mature Liaison, I will serve my members as they were my own flesh and blood by being understanding, honest and empathetic.