The next Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) general election will be decided by electronic ballot.
At the RSU’s semi-annual general meeting on Monday night, members voted in favour of the necessary bylaws introducing online voting.
Andrea Bartlett, RSU president, said she knew the membership was behind the move well before the vote.
“We conducted a survey in the month of October where 87 per cent of the membership voted in favour of online voting,” Bartlett told The Ryersonian.
The RSU had planned to test the system in the byelections that took place in November. But Bartlett said the plan was abandoned until a membership vote could be held.
“We couldn’t do a trial run in the byelection because the byelection happened before online voting was approved by the membership,” she said.
At the meeting, some members — notably Reignite’s Vajdaan Tanveer — raised concerns an online voting system could be tampered with and jeopardize the union’s integrity.
Bartlett said the union has been having meetings to discuss issues like these with the Computing and Communications Services (CCS) at Ryerson.
“We’re having preliminary meetings to identify the scope, then going through the creation of the contract … to ensure the confidentiality of the information is secure … (and to) ensure that any of the glitches that occur are minor and could be resolved through the beta-testing process,” she said.
Bartlett said the system will be beta-tested starting in January.
The RSU will be using the current RAMSS system, which is used for online voting during Senate elections. The total cost is not yet known, Bartlett said.
“Now that it’s been voted on by the membership, we’re going through the process to understand the total costs, also knowing that set-up costs in the initial year are usually higher (than) operational costs moving forward,” she said.
An online system will benefit Ryerson students and may increase voter turnout, she said.
“We are a commuter campus (so) sometimes people may not even have class on the days that voting occurs,” Bartlett said. “This will allow for greater accessibility to address the voter apathy issue that we have on campus and students can actually be engaged in student politics.”
Voter turnout for last year’s election was around 3,500 students of 28,000 full-time students that make up the RSU membership. That is just over 13 per cent turnout (based on 2013-2014 enrolment).
In other business at Monday’s meeting, the membership passed a motion allocating the equivalent of $2 per student to the equity services centre, and to add “No to Anti-Semitism” pins to a group of existing equity pins that the RSU hands out.
A motion to increase the union’s executive salaries was deferred.