UTSU Resorts to Voter Intimidation to Boost Election Turnout
ST. GEORGE CAMPUS - The University of Toronto Students’ Union (UTSU) has a problem on its hands. The UTSU’s ongoing election has been plagued by low voter turnout yet again––86% of voters are candidates voting for themselves, making it hard to claim legitimacy in many students’ eyes. Student apathy, frequent election cycles, puzzling ideological stands, and a lack of clarity about what the UTSU actually does mean many students choose not to exercise their franchise.
The UTSU has responded by trying to increase its visibility at election time, but with limited success. At their most recent meeting, they agreed to a radical solution to the long-standing problem of failing to attract people to the ballot box: voter intimidation. The UTSU has sanctioned gangs of its supporters to patrol campus and force students to vote by dragging them to polling stations, and threatening to exile noncompliant students to the Scarborough campus.
Asked if this measure runs contrary to their democratic principles, a UTSU spokesperson says they could hardly be called democratic since their turnout is generally around 6%. “This will actually increase our democratic legitimacy,” the spokesperson comments. “What do you have to lose? Voting is good. Not voting is bad, it’s as simple as that. If we have to do some arm-twisting to get there, so be it.” It remains to be seen whether this will boost turnout, but analysts point to exit polls that show roughly 12% turnout––which the UTSU regards as a success.
Photo Credit: The Boundary Staff