By Riley Faulds
Note: an earlier version of this article listed achieving a favourable vote greater than 10% of enrolled students as a requirement for a referendum to be approved. The Elections Regulations that this was drawn from are apparently trumped by updated Guild Regulations approved by the Senate in March. Apologies for the mistake (update your website @UWAStudentGuild 😉 )
As polling enters its fourth and final day, reports of a low turnout may encourage election-shy students to at least vote in the referendum, if not in the wider elections. It has been a particularly quiet year on the booths, potentially influenced by the withdrawal of many STAR candidates, the absence of Launch from the elections, and no COSTA candidates being in evidence at the polling places. At times, I’ve counted no more than ten candidates vying for votes – and even that vying has been rather subdued compared to previous years. While this makes walking past Reid or Oak much smoother, it has prompted concerns around the number of students voting.
Officials have confirmed that the turnout in the first few days of polling has been significantly lower than previous years (1679 votes cast as of this morning according to the Elections Returning Officer Mary Petrou). This is unsurprising, for the reasons listed above above, but may be a concern for those students interested in seeing the referendum opposing the University’s cuts gain a convincing number of votes.
It is a notable sign of cross-party goodwill – often rare in Guild Elections – that GLOBAL, Left Action, Spark, and STAR have all signed a joint statement supporting a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum to “reject the cuts” to University courses and staff positions. Each of them will therefore be concerned that turnout so far has been low, as the number of favourable votes has often been listed as a primary goal to be taken to the Senate as a marker of widespread student opposition to the cuts.
While this referendum is not a referendum in a traditional sense – it will not affect any written regulations directly – student organisations opposing the cuts have listed it as a key part of the next stages of their strategy. The final day of polling may be critical for achieving favourable vote numbers for this referendum’s persuasiveness with University management.
If you wish to vote in the elections or referendum, today is your final chance. Polling is open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Reid Library Lawn and Oak Lawn, or 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the J. Robin Warren (Medical-Dentistry) Library. Find further details in this article.