2018-2019 LUSU election sees an increase in voter turnout by 1.1 percent
By Kaelen Pelaia, Staff Writer
With the campaigning, voting, and tallying completed, the Lakehead University Student Union 2018-2019 Elections officially closed as of Wednesday, February 7th. With a myriad of candidates along with a multitude of platforms, the students of Lakehead University had many options for choosing their representatives at the administrative level of the institution this year.
According to LUSU’s record of the election, total student turnout numbered 1475 out of 9474 total potential electors – around 15.6% of the student body (only 10% of the student population must vote for the election results to be deemed valid.) This is a slight increase from the 2017 election, which saw a mere 14.5% of eligible electors casting their votes. Despite efforts from LUSU to encourage student engagement, as well as the increase in the number of candidates this year (last year only one candidate ran for both President and Vice President of Finance), the student participation rate in elections remains low.
The candidates for President included Jessica Kearney, who is the current Vice President Orillia, and incumbent LUSU President Leah Ching. Ching managed the election victory, with over 60% of votes cast in her favour. Pending board approval, Ching will continue into the next term as President.
LUSU has three Vice Presidency positions, which include the VP Operations and Finance, VP Advocacy, and VP Orillia. The incumbent VPs are, respectively, Farhan Yousaf, Lindsay Kelly, and Jessica Kearney. Only Yousaf and Kelly returned for re-election this year, and both secured victory as election polls tallied 68.9% and 66.4% respectively. The candidacy for Vice President Orillia, meanwhile, saw newcomers Theresa Vandeburgt and Cody Avery duking it out for the privilege of office. After the election closed, Vandeburgt claimed victory with over 56% of the total votes.
The Thunder Bay Board of Directors also saw a multitude of candidates vying for positions, with eighteen individuals running for a seat on the board. These include, in descending order of total votes:
Harleen Bhullar, 545 (11.3%)
Victoria Erickson, 415 (8.6%)
Annaah Malik, 414 (8.6%)
Shahroze (Shezzy) Arshad, 399 (8.3%)
Josh Pogue, 371 (7.7%)
Feras Battah, 321 (6.7%)
Prabhjot Singh Ahuja, 319 (6.6%)
Mathew Nowak, 261 (5.4%)
Richard Mullin-Cote, 249 (5.2%)
Joseph Carew 235, (4.9%)
Jake Penton 219, (4.6%)
Timothy Thomson, 214 (4.4%)
Victoria Mechis 213, (4.4%)
Konnor J Davidson, 197 (4.1%)
Tannis Kastern 175, (3.6%)
Lauren Kaus 108, (2.2%)
James Barsby 94, (2.0%)
Basil Patrick 63, (1.3%)
The Orillia Board of Directors had no new candidates, so the incumbent members of the position were subject to a vote of confidence. The results are as follows:
Yes (Vote of Confidence for Rachel Murray) 157 (44.1%)
Yes (Vote of Confidence for Paula Clark) 148 (41.6%)
No (Do not elect Paula Clark) 29 (8.1%)
No (Do not elect Rachel Murray) 22 (6.2%)
Concerns about not meeting quorum are present with every election – last fall in fact, a by-election for Vice President Advocacy did not receive enough student voter participation and was subsequently deemed invalid. While there was a slight increase in the percentage of student participation compared to the 2017 election, the voter interest of the majority of the student body is still disturbingly low.
These results will be considered preliminary until the board approves the validity of the election, and if valid, the candidates will assume office in May.