Student government elections to be held online

Amidst COVID-19, AMS focused on delivering transparent, accessible elections 

Candidates were given tools to collect signatures online.
Credit: 
Journal File Photo

As the Province continues to enforce lockdown, the AMS is taking precautions to ensure the virtual election cycle upholds the same standard as previous years.

The election timeline has maintained its traditional format but has been shifted back a week to give students additional time to adapt to a semester of remote learning, Laura Devenny, chief electoral officer of the AMS, wrote in a statement to The Journal

Devenny said the method of conducting the AMS election process had to undergo thorough changes to ensure transparency and accessibility online. 

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“Elections season has historically been a very engaging on-campus event, with info sessions, nomination, assembly, debates, campaigning, and voting booths,” Devenny wrote.  

“Now, all these events have been moved online, and we have our elections team coming up with ways to make them more informative and engaging. We are excited to see what initiatives candidates come up [with] during campaign week.”  

Candidates meeting the eligibility requirements are encouraged to campaign and run remotely, with the caveat that in-person campaigning and signature gathering are strictly prohibited.  

“Unfortunately, this year you will not see clipboards with signature packages being passed around in lecture halls. Since gathering nomination signatures is one of the most important aspects of the election process, we had to work to move it online,” Devenny wrote. 

To accommodate the shift online, Devenny said the nomination package provided to candidates includes a template to conduct virtual signature collection through secure forms. 

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“[Candidates] will still need to collect names, student numbers and emails, so students that signed the form can be contacted to verify the validity of the signature,” Devenny wrote.

Debates will also take place in a virtual webinar format, with streaming readily available for students to watch. According to Devenny, questions will be prepared for the candidates similar to past debates, followed by a structured time for students to interact with candidates. 

Debates will be hosted Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. for AMS executive candidates and Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. for Undergraduate Trustee candidates.  

Turnout and engagement with AMS elections has historically presented a challenge, according to Devenny, with this year presenting the additional task of shifting events virtually. 

“We have had to come up with different ways to market and facilitate the essential aspects. In a way though, with jobs being facilitated and conducted online, it gives everyone an opportunity to participate and have a further, transparent look into the election process,” Devenny wrote.  

Devenny said translating elections online has provided the AMS with the opportunity to take an in-depth look on elections policy and create more efficient and effective results.  

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