Fall referendum goes online

AMS will use $8,200-system for fall and winter referenda, Internal Affairs Commissioner says

It’s no more pencils and no more books when students vote in the AMS fall referendum next week.

This year, students will cast online ballots using their Queen’s NetID and a password sent to their webmail accounts, AMS Internal Affairs Commissioner Lucas Anderson said.

The online ballot, created by Votenet Solutions, will open at 8 a.m. on Oct. 27 and stay open until 8 p.m. on Oct. 28. Students can vote from any computer or at 10 designated polling stations across campus.

“Students will be able to vote on referendum questions as normal, so they can vote yes or no to each question, they can omit certain questions if they don’t want to vote on them at all,” Anderson said.

Students can only submit their ballots once because the system will turn their account off after a ballot is submitted from it, he said.

The Votenet system cost $8,200 for the year, he said, adding that the AMS can use Votenet for an unlimited number of elections.

“Moving forward, the general idea is to kind of streamline all voting if this system works,” he said, adding that he’s been talking to faculty societies about running their elections using the AMS’s Votenet system.

Anderson said the AMS is saving on paper and printing costs a traditional ballot would generate. The society also won’t have to hire as many Student Constables to run polling stations.

“The transition won’t cost any more than last year’s referendum,” he said, adding that he doesn’t have specific figures for paper and printing costs.

The AMS will use Votenet for the winter referendum and executive election in January, he said.

Referendum results are tabulated instantaneously and the executive election, which uses preferential voting, will have results tabulated less than three hours after the polls close, he said.

Anderson said the AMS is conducting online polling as a trial run this year.

“There will be new policy considerations and just something we need to work with on the fly,” he said. For example, the AMS could run into problems if students promoting a fee, question or candidate walked around campus with a laptop asking people to vote for them on election day, he said.

“This year, we’ll be looking at these things.”

Anderson said he hopes to see an increase in voter turnout because students now have a convenient way to vote on the go.

“I wouldn’t place my faith in a number yet, but I’m optimistic.”

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