By Claudia Long and Maggie Coggan | @ClaudiaLongsays, @MaggieCoggan
Image by Charlie Buchner
They’re the pinnacle of the democratic process. The cherry topping the egalitarian milkshake. The chance for you to make your voice heard.
Unless, that is, you’ve found yourself caught up in a student election. In this case, your chance of making an informed vote, free from coercion and harassment is about the same as that of a voter in a corrupt micronation.
Now, you may think the campaigners you run into probably need to get another hobby, leave their t-shirts and flyers at home and learn to take no for an answer sometimes. You may very well think that, but we at Catalyst couldn’t possibly comment.
To escape campaigners you’d have need to have started a daily intensive intervals training program months ago, so here’s how to get through the week with your sanity intact and make your vote count.
What the fuck is with all these friendly but also low-key aggressive people in t-shirts?
Welcome to student elections! The whole purpose of this big shindig is to elect members to positions on the Student Union Council (SUC) of the Rmit University Student Union a.k.a RUSU. There’s a whole bunch of positions up for grabs and many candidates who are willing to fight tooth and nail to get ‘em. RUSU has been run by representatives of the Connect ticket by and large for the better part of a decade, but nonetheless their main competition – comprised of members of the socialist alternative and left-leaning university clubs – are still keen to continue their fight against both Connect and their other arch-nemesis: capitalism.
Traditionally, students who align with the values of the Labor right run with Connect, those who align with Labor left, the Greens and the Socialist Alliance/Alternative run with whatever they decide to call the opposition ticket that year and those who align with the Liberals tend to run under a small, conservative ticket that never manages to win.
This year, only Connect and the socialist team, Left Action are running, This doesn’t mean every candidate is a member of these groups, although many are, nor are they campaigning in any way on their behalf. But, it does provide you with a bit of a guide as to where their values may lie.
So you’ve been cornered, now what?
If you want some time to make a considered decision, it’s ok not to vote right away.
But many campaigners aren’t too keen on that for some reason so they may try to ruthlessly pressure reasonably talk you into voting right then and there. If you already know how you’d like to vote then that’s a top idea! But if you’d like more time to think, there’s a few ways to get out of this sticky situation…
- Say you’ve already voted
- Campaigners tend to emphasise how much longer lines will be later/earlier/literally any other time of the day, but by and large they tend to be the same so just say you’d like time to think
- Some campaigners like to make their presence known by getting right up in your face, usually while their competitor does the same. Not only is this annoying (halitosis anyone?), it’s also just plain weird but the best thing you can do is keep walking, take all the sheets of paper, and come back and make an informed decision/make them all into a garland or some other nifty papercraft should you so choose
But if the campaigners have managed to catch you at a good time here’s what you’ll need:
- Your student card
- About 5 minutes
- OPTIONAL: a how-to-vote card should you choose to use one
Ok you’ve made it to the booth, what next?
Let’s set the scene: You’ve braved the campaigners. You’ve handed over your student card. You’re at the ballot box. You can hear someone shouting ‘8 years free’ in the distance for some reason you don’t quite understand…
Remember, you can vote however you like. There’s no rules saying you need to follow any cards given to you by any campaigners to get their candidates elected. Perhaps you like the sound of having more than one group represented on the SUC? In that case, just number the boxes the same way you would at a normal election until they are all filled in whatever order you like.
Maybe you like the way things have been running at RUSU thus far and or want a complete change of pace by having the majority of one ticket take up most of the seats on the SUC. In that case, the best thing to do is number the boxes as you see on your preferred how to vote card.
Wait, what’s all this NUS business?
Ah, that’s the National Union of Students. This is the peak union body for students across Australia and each university gets to elect a number of candidates to represent them each year. The NUS is a much more political space than RUSU, so keep an eye out for some future politicians on your ballot paper!
Voting for NUS representatives is pretty much the same as voting for RUSU SUC members, you can preference them whatever way you like. If you want a varied group of representatives from more than just one ticket, number the boxes however you wish.
If you’ve been won over by a particular campaigner and want their group to take up all the NUS spots, then just vote in line with what you see on the how-to-vote card.