How low is too low?

What kind of mandate does a student union president have when only five per cent of students supported them?


Last week, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa held their annual elections. Voter turn-out was just over 10 per cent. The head of student elections told La Rotonde, U of O’s French-language student newspaper, that he was pleased with the turn-out, despite the fact that it dropped by almost 50 per cent from the year before, because he’d expected it to be even lower. He blamed the decline on a return to paper ballots and ending online voting.

The 11.5 per cent turnout is on the low side when compared to other universities but it’s not the lowest.

This was a close election; the president-elect won by less than one percentage point. And that’s what really gets me, one of the main jobs of student unions is representing students but can someone really represent a group when 95 per cent of the members didn’t vote for them?


How low is too low?

  1. Well, that all depends on whether you think student unions still have any significant role to play at universities. Obviously a 5 per cent turnout is shamefully low, but I’m guessing most people don’t vote in student elections because they don’t see any tangible benefit (or harm) in their lives as a result of the student unions’ work. As a result, people don’t learn about candidates and then don’t feel like casting a vote (unless they know them personally).

    As for whether the president can legitimately claim to represent 95 per cent of students who didn’t vote for him, well, 90 per cent didn’t vote at all. They don’t get to bitch.

  2. It’s been as low as 1% at UofT…

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