We here at The Siren have constantly been trying to encourage people to learn all about the Sabbatical Elections and how to vote as we were aware that there was not enough information out there for the students to use.  As today was the last day of voting, campaigning this week has been at an all time high and we sent out Roisin O’Connor and William Hunt to interview some prospective voters, candidates and campaign teams about how they felt the elections have gone… Read on to find out if this year’s E-voting and E-campaigning has changed anything.

In JC’s there was a general air of negativity about voting. A large proportion of those we asked responded that they simply couldn’t be bothered, and many of them said that they didn’t really know enough about the candidates or their policies to cast a vote. Even those in the know seemed disillusioned with the process. One student said of the elections “The same promises were made last year, but very little has changed. I would have voted had I thought it was anything more than a popularity contest.”, and the general consensus was that the campaigning on campus had been a very in-your-face affair. “It was a bit much”, another ticked-off student mentioned, “when someone knocked on our door and tried to push their policies on us on our doorstep.” So with all this negativity, we thought it would be a good idea to put some of these opinions to the candidates to see what they had to say.

We got amidst the campaign teams outside the library as they were still relentlessly trying to recruit voters. “The elections have been a lot more intense this year”, answered one member when asked how he felt the campaign had gone so far. “The e-voting has been an interesting element, and both campaigners and students alike have had to see more of the elections. We’re not sure if this is a positive thing yet or not though.” When we quizzed them about the seeming reluctance of some students to vote, they replied “Third year students have been here the longest, and thus have the most experience to know what students need, and who is most likely to follow through with their promises. In any university elections, there will be some sense of a popularity contest, but I think that whoever is successful tonight will have geared their campaign towards talking to the individual.”

Others shared similar sentiments. “I’ve loved the campaign so far” said one candidate, “and the team-spirit has been amazing. We’ve been making a lot of use of video logging, and even tried to use a I-phone app, but it wouldn’t let us! Of course there is an element of the elections being a popularity contest, but as a candidate, I am a firm believer that you can change opinions with a good set of policies.” They talked of vast improvements They’d like to see made to the student village, following a visit they’d made there earlier on this week. Also, he suggested a novel approach to showing those who decided against voting that their opinions matter. “Run a week without the union, and the services they provide. That would raise awareness of exactly how much students need the union.” Also, to encourage more voting in general, they suggested setting up a physical polling station, and offering voters the option to buy an ‘I HAVE VOTED’ t-shirt for a small fee, which could then be donated to charity or put towards the costs of running the union. All of the campaigners were of the opinion that students were generally ill-informed about the elections, and awareness needs to be raised. Perhaps next year, information could be included in the Freshers pack which will allow first year students to be more knowledgeable when it comes to voting.

Speaking of Freshers, what of those who are based in the Student Village, how did they feel about the elections? First year student Jack Cresci is one of the villagers and told us that, “it was nice to get involved in it all, people in the village were really receptive to the candidates who came round.” He also didn’t feel at all separated from the campus because of the effort that the candidates had made and also thought that having the vote online meant that it was easier for people to take part rather than having to travel all the way to the university to do it the old fashioned way.

by Roisin O’Connor and William Hunt

The voting has finally come to an end and the exit polls are up for you to check out now! The Siren would like to wish all the candidates good luck for tonight… and now we wait!