IGNITE voter participation still stagnant

by | Mar 24, 2017 | Headlines, News

Elliot Williams
Humber News Reporter

Despite weeks of campaigning and exposure – and in the wake of a $400,000 rebranding effort —  IGNITE’s 2017 election had only 55 more student votes compared to last year.

Walls, pillars and populated student areas were covered with posters of candidates running in the election a smaller portion of eligible voters participated this year than last.

This year’s voter turnout of 7,059 students represented 23.46 per cent of the eligible voters, while the 2016 election had 24.97 per cent. Although there is slightly a higher number of voters than last year, the decrease in percentage for this year is due to the increase of eligible students.

“We have to focus on reaching out [to] students,” said Maja Jocson, IGNITE’s newly elected President. “The best way to get students to vote is to… engage with them…. just listen to people I think students will appreciate it.”

Jocson received 2,352 votes, nearly a third of all those cast in a four-person field.

Nicholas Davenport, newly elected to Humber’s Board of Directors, argues that the rebranding effort to change the identity of the former Humber Students’ Federation itself inadvertently led to a low voter turnout.

“I feel that IGNITE isn’t established with Humber community as it should be, because the rebranding put a lot of confusion into students, so they are under the impression that there is an HSF (the old name for the student government),” said Davenport.

But outgoing members of IGNITE insist the modest increase of voter numbers from last year is a promising sign of student engagement.

“It’s encouraging to see the number of voters go up, it’s the most important thing by far.

Making them [students] aware of this process and making them aware that voting is happening,” Ahmed Tahir, current IGNITE President, told Humber News.

“At the end of the day, what brings out the most votes is the candidates going out and talking to students,” Tahir added.

Despite everything, Humber’s voter participation is robust compared to some colleges.

Glendon College’s Fall 2016 by-elections had 203 eligible voters out of 2,946 which is 6.8 per cent. Vanier College had an even lower voter turnout at 2.7 per cent in their Fall 2016 student council election. George Brown College’s 2016 student election had 15 per cent of the full-time student population voting.

Meanwhile, many universities see much larger proportions of their students voting. Queen’s University had a 45.7 per cent voter turnout in their 2017 student election – their highest one yet. McMaster University had 41.6 per cent of the student population voting in their 2017 Presidential election.