Concordia Student Union News

Voter turnout in the CSU general election plummets to the lowest percentage in recent years

This year’s CSU elections seem to have taken students by surprise

Students had the opportunity to vote last week in the CSU general elections, but it seems like many students may have missed their chance.

This year’s elections had the lowest voter turnout the CSU has seen in recent years, with 1,536 votes cast; 4.8 per cent of the 32,199 students registered to vote.

This was a 0.8 per cent decrease from last year’s general election, in February 2020, which had the advantage of being held in-person and online, with a total of 1,731 votes.

The results of this election were also a massive decrease from the by-elections in fall 2020 a greater success with a 17.8 per cent voter turnout.

The elections are an opportunity for students to select who will represent them in the coming year. This year, due to the pandemic, they were held entirely online which may have made it difficult for students to get involved.

Some were completely unaware elections were happening in the first place. 

“I didn’t know that it was happening this year, until I got the email pop up,” said Noah Cohen-Wanis, a second-year Mechanical Engineering student. “I had more important school things to worry about, like my grades.”

The pandemic and online classes have made it more difficult for students to keep up with school news unrelated to their own classes. In a time where students are notified of nearly everything by email, it can be easy to miss things.

Some students feel that just receiving an email from the school isn’t enough to get them interested in the election in the first place. Cohen-Wanis suggested a more personal approach, with candidates trying to make appearances briefly in Zoom lectures as they often did when classes were in-person.

“That way we can hear them talk and understand what their purpose is and what change they’re trying to make. It would definitely get me interested instead of just getting some email from the school,” said Cohen-Wanis.

Other students suggested taking advantage of other essential Concordia platforms like Moodle and MyConcordia; things that students interact with every day.

“Honestly if one of my friends hadn’t told me the CSU election was this week I’m not sure I would have seen the email until the weekend [after the elections],” said Patrick Baylis, a third-year Engineering student.

Not knowing who they were voting for was a common issue among students who did take part in the election.

“I feel like the most I learned about the candidates was when I was actually looking at the ballot — previously I didn’t know who was running,” said Baylis.

Information about candidates can be found on the CSU’s website. While many candidates have detailed bios and campaign information, many have less than a paragraph, or even nothing at all written. Some candidates simply stated the position they were running for.

Some students did try to vote in the elections, but got frustrated by the online process.

“I got an error saying I wasn’t registered for any ballot,” said Baylis. After contacting an elections representative from the CSU, Baylis was sent a second email that would detail how he was going to vote again. Many students received multiple emails with different voting information.

The emails contained unique voter login and password information for use on the official CSU online voting website. But after voting, some students were sent another email with new login credentials, after receiving an error message when trying to vote the first time.

Baylis explained that the follow-up email did not contain any information detailing if his original vote was invalid, or whether he would have to vote again. It was only after contacting a CSU elections official, that he was told he would have to vote again.

“It was just from my conversation with the election person at the CSU, I knew I would need to go and vote through that link as opposed to the previous link,” he said.

Baylis says many of his peers were sent second emails with voting links as well, and many were unsure if their original vote was actually cast. 


Logo courtesy of the Concordia Student Union (CSU)


Results for ASFA general elections announced

Elections were extended half a day due to not reaching quorum by 13 votes

The results for the Arts & Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) general elections have been released with a total of 459 votes. All of the candidates for the executive team ran unopposed and were successfully voted in. One of the four referendum questions on the ballot was not passed.

ASFA extends election period for half a day after not reaching quorum. Graphic by Florence Yee.

The voting period for ASFA general elections were extended by half a day due to the elections not reaching the  quorum—the 435 ballots cast necessary to legitimize the election—after students cast their votes between March 21 to 23 to elect a new ASFA executive team for 2017-2018 and vote upon four referendum questions.

Julia Sutera Sardo, currently ASFA vice-president of internal affairs was successfully elected president with 305 votes, 53 abstaining votes and 91 votes against.

Christopher Czich won the position of VP of Social Affairs, with 297 votes in favour; Bianca Bruzzese obtained the role as VP of External Affairs and Sustainability with 266 votes in favour; Gregory Bedell was elected VP of Loyola and Academic Affairs with 239 votes in favour. Also, Steven Tutino won VP of Internal Affairs with 265 votes in approval and Francesco Valente won with 295 votes in favour for the position of VP Finance.

The role of vp of Communications and Promotions has not been filled, as no one ran during general elections.

For the role of independent councillors, all four candidates running were elected; Andrea Gauthier, Rachel Hutchinson, Gaëlle Kouyoumdjian and Alisa Knezevic. There remains one open spot for a fifth independent councillor which remains unfilled.

Three of the four referendum questions in this election were passed. The proposal for ASFA’s fee levy to be raised by $0.12/credit—from $1.22/credit to $1.34/credit, put into effect in Fall semester 2017—was rejected by students: 207 voted no, while 166 voted in favour and 56 abstained.

However, the second referendum question was passed to allow quorum for Annual General Elections, By-Elections and any Referendum questions to be lowered from a requirement of 2.5 per cent of the students ASFA represents, being more than 20,000 students—this election’s quorum was set at 435 students—down to 400 students. This passed by 207 votes, with 137 votes opposed.

The third bylaw asked students to vote for changes to the ASFA bylaws to alter the students allowed on the organization’s financial committee. The changes, which were approved with 185 votes in favour, allows for a student at large—meaning a student who is neither an executive or councillor—to be part of the committee which approves budgets for events and ASFA’s member associations.

Finally, the referendum question for ASFA executive positions to be changed to non-hierarchical titles were passed by 252 votes, and 87 opposed.

ASFA’s chief electoral officer (CEO) Samuel Miriello announced the federation decided to extend the voting period, giving students the chance to vote from 9 a.m. to noon March 24 to reach quorum.

Just before 8 p.m. on March 23, ASFA vice-president of internal affairs Julia Sutera Sardo said ASFA’s election had met quorum. However, at 11 p.m., Miriello stated ASFA had not reached quorum. The mistake was due to a technical error with the election equipment.

According to Miriello, the issue was with the vote counting system. “People with double majors were counted twice by accident—we were off by 13 votes,” he said.

“If we knew that we were missing votes, we would’ve extended the polls anyway,” Miriello told The Concordian. “The technical error was exposed during ballot count.”

Despite extending the elections longer than three days and furthering balloting after votes had been counted, Miriello said lawyers working for ASFA told him doing so was legal.


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