Volume 93, Issue 76

Tuesday, February 15, 2000


Students hop on bus once again

Highest voter turnout in years

Guelph hit with series of sexual assaults

Investigation of Ottawa prof delayed

Play hopes to raise awareness

Fantino's remarks cause controversy

Campus on alert for suspicious activity


Caught on campus

Highest voter turnout in years

By Chris Lackner
Gazette Staff

Western students sided with democracy last week as the University Students' Council elections enjoyed the highest voter turnout in years.

Mike Gelfand, chief returning officer for the USC, said 5,786 Western students voted in last week's presidential elections. He explained the total was the highest turnout in the last eight years and the second highest in the last 12.

"A number of factors were involved in the strong turnout," Gelfand said. "Online voting was a factor, because it improved student access to the ballots." Gelfand also said the large number of presidential candidates and the bus pass referendum were other factors in drawing voters.

"I'm extremely happy," said current USC president SzeJack Tan. "It was the best turnout in years."

Gelfand said there were some minor glitches in the online voting process, including a two hour gap Wednesday night in which students could not vote. "To be honest, [Information Technology Services] didn't know what the problem was at the time, but the system was down for a couple of hours."

Gelfand explained the two hours of lost voting were unimportant. "This year students had almost 24 hour access to the ballots," he said. "In the past, with paper balloting, the polls would only be open between 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.."

Bill Genn, assistant director of ITS, said he was unaware of any serious complications. "From what I understand, things went smoothly," Genn said. "The set-up worked well for the USC. Hopefully, the success of these elections means we can have more kinds of online voting in the future."

Dave Braun, USC president elect, had some concerns with online voting before the election. "I was worried it would be easier for some parts of the Western community to vote than others," Braun explained. "For example, first-year students in residence might have better access to online voting then students living off-campus."

Braun added next year, he would like to ensure more polling stations were situated around campus, including lap-tops in every faculty department. "With more polling stations around campus, we can ensure the vote is a fair representation of the whole campus," he said.

Michelle Cino, a second-year media, information and technoculture student, said she would not have voted if the election had not been online. "It was easier," she said.

"I also voted because I thought the candidates campaigned more. They made themselves more accessible to the students."

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