The Union of UEA Students (UUEAS) had put a number of new strategies in place in order to increase voting turnout in today’s student elections. The aim of these was to have more students casting their vote in the Union staff contest than ever before.
This year saw a record number of candidates enlisting with 28 (now 22) candidates originally campaigning for the four full time positions of Academic Officer, Communications Officer, Community and Student Rights Officer, and Sports Officer. Furthermore the part time positions of Women’s Officer, International Student Officer, LGBT Officer, and Ethnic Minorities Officer were all contested between at least two candidates where historically there has only ever been one person applying for each post. Current Community and Student Rights Officer, Tash Ross, believes that the significant increase in the number of candidates will result in a rise in individual voters.
Ms Ross spoke to Concrete about the Union-organised hustings event held this year. This is the first time since 2008 that hustings have been held for Union elections, which Ms Ross said would “drive interest” and improve voting turnout. However, she also stated that turnout is up to the candidates themselves; if people are interested in what a candidate is saying then they are more likely to vote.
When asked about the importance of voting Ms Ross spoke about the how those who work for the Union “try and lobby the university” and are the “voice of students”, making a staff that represents the opinion of the student population very important. She also informed Concrete that this year the Union set a target of a 15% (2500 students) voting turnout, which would be a marked increase on last year’s 10% (1700 students) final voting turnout.
Voting closed today (Monday 12 March) at 5pm.