TWO NEWBIES were elected to the VUWSA executive last week, in a byelection again tainted by problems with the online voting system.
The voting problems were similar to a previous by-election, where some students who enrolled before 2004 did not receive the email invitation to vote.
Returns Officer Ryan Bridge admits that the problem was expected, but the online voting method was selected because of the 74% increase in voter turnout since it was introduced.
In anticipation of the problems, “clear instructions” were given before voting began for students who do not receive the email. Students had to contact the VUWSA office and leave their details in order to be sent the link. Amusingly, two members of the current executive were among those who did not initially receive the email.
“[Post grad] students seem to be the only people [experiencing] the problem,” Bridge says. According the Bridge, the issue was due to problems with the list of email addresses provided by the University. Those enrolled before 2004 were registered on a different email system to more recently enrolled students.
When questioned last week regarding the problem, the University’s Services Manager Des Kelly replied, “It’s the first I’ve heard of it.”
Former VUWSA President Jeremy Greenbrook was also among those who did not receive the email, but was eventually able to vote. He says it was “obviously a little bit of a flaw, and I hope its something VUWSA sorts out before the general election.”
However, Bridge says the current system will continue to be used for future elections.
Both Heleyni Pratley and Alexander Neilson – the only two candidates to run – were elected to the two vacant positions on the VUWSA executive, Campaigns and Activities Officer. Results released late Thursday afternoon showed a voter turnout of 488, almost 100 less than that of the last by-election. Neilson received 231 votes, while 221 votes were cast for Pratley.
Neilson admitted he was disappointed at his margin over the no confidence category, which received 178 votes. However, he adds that he “was surprised I beat Heleyni [given her experience].”
Perhaps illustrative of the amount of interest voters had in the by-election, just over a quarter of students who had voted requested to be notified of the results by email.