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‘Quiet’ SOAS elections underway: Polls show tight election

By Mohammad Tahboub, BA Politics and Law

SOAS SU elections are fully underway with campaigners across campus. However, the elections are marred by student dissatisfaction with the new online voting system.

The 2014 election season has seen an unprecedented quiet in both publicity and campaigning with social media increasingly overlooked with a noticeable absence of the SU on Facebook. Despite frequent posts through the official page, advertising of the hustings (candidate speeches) and the opening of the election was almost non-existent. Though a hustings Facebook event page was created a day before the event, attendance fell dramatically with an estimated 100 people attending in comparison to last year’s 200.

With the election due to take place till Thursday 5 pm, The SOAS Spirit poll, conducted online, shows a very tight competition for the position of Co-President Activities and Events. The random sample of 40 students has shown no candidate receiving more than 28 percent of the vote with eight percent undecided. The percentage of undecided voters was much higher in the race of Co-President Democracy and Education with over 21 percent unsure on who to vote for with both candidates neck and neck. However, the contest for Co-President Welfare and Campaigns shows one candidate leading with a large margin over the other.

Though the election is race for some positions is uncompetitive, the SU aims to attract record amount of voters to the ballot through the electronic voting system with the expressed desire to expand the online system to allow students to vote online from any computer by next year. However, some students have complained about the new system due to the length of time needed to use the election tablets to vote for the candidates. One highly disgruntled student said “it took me over ten minutes to vote, the old paper system was much quicker and more convenient”. The failure of the new system also raised concerns among candidates that students would not bother voting for all positions due to the immense difficulty of voting.

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