How does the MSU vote? An analysis of the past five MSU presidential election and referenda results

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With every election season comes a discussion about how engaged students are with student politics. This year was the first year in five where less than 40 per cent of the student population voted in the McMaster Students Union presidential election, but not every election season is made equal, and different election seasons saw a varying number of candidates, referenda and contention.

This past MSU presidential election saw one of the lowest voter turnouts in years, with 28 per cent of the student union voting. A total of 6,482 people voted for seven candidates.

There was also one referendum which decided the fate of the Ontario Public Research Group’s funding at the university. Students were given the choice to maintain the current $8.07 fee, lower it to $5.50 or remove the fee completely. Students voted to slightly lower the OPIRG fee.

This past MSU presidential election saw one of the lowest voter turnouts in years, with 28 per cent of the student union voting. A total of 6,482 people voted for seven candidates. 

Last year, Chukky Ibe won the presidential election. Roughly 41.6 per cent and 9,327 people voted. There were six candidates and three different referenda.

The first referendum involved the Hamilton Streetcar Railway bus pass. As a part of continuing negotiations between the MSU and the HSR, the HSR pass fee must go to referendum every three years.

There were three options: either maintain current service levels, increase service levels but pay slightly more or get rid of the fee completely. Students voted to maintain current levels.

The second referendum asked students if they were willing to pay to build Athletics and Recreation Student Activity Building and expand the Pulse gym. There were also three options given in this referendum: no fee, only expand the Pulse or fund both.

This referendum failed but was later brought back in March where it succeeded.

The third referendum asked students if they should task the vice president (Education) with the job of creating a course syllabus repository. This referendum passed and did not have any official pro or con stances.

In 2016, Justin Monaco-Barnes won in a five candidate election. 44.5 per cent of the student union voted, with 9,478 people participating. That year, there was one constitutional referendum that asked students if MSU vice presidents should be elected at large rather than internally by the Student Representative Assembly. This referendum failed.

In 2015, Ehima Osazuwa won in another five candidate election. 42.2 per cent of the MSU voted with 8,858 students participating. There were two referenda that year, both of which passed.

The first involved changing the MSU health plan to cover include prescription contraception and the second involved approving a myriad of changes to the MSU constitution. These constitutional changes included changing some aspects of the SRA, re-formatted the president’s role and allowed the SRA to make bylaw changes if SRA members are not present.

Before 2014, the last time voter turnout was over 40 per cent was in 1991 with 4,825 people participating, according to a 2014 report from the MSU Alumni Association. 

In 2014, Teddy Saull also won against four other candidates. In this election, 40.5 per cent of the MSU voted with 8,364 people participating. There were two referenda in 2014, one involving the HSR and the other involving the health insurance plan.

Students voted to increase the HSR pass fee by $12.50 to create a 12-month pass and extended service. Students voted to maintain the health plan and not add anything to it.

2013 was the last time less than 40 per cent of the student union voted in the presidential election. David Campbell won that year against four candidates in an election with 29.3 per cent of the MSU voting. 5,972 people voted in this election.

There were two referenda that year; one added a student levy of $0.90 to give to McMaster Marching Band, and the other lowered the CFMU 93.3 fee to $12.50 from $17.29.

Before 2014, the last time voter turnout was over 40 per cent was in 1991 with 4,825 people participating, according to a 2014 report from the MSU Alumni Association.

While the MSU welcomes its next president-elect, the union will continue to grapple with its lowest voter turnout since 2011.

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