By LAURA McFADZEAN
Casting a ballot in the Monash Student Association (MSA) election will look a little different this year, with Monash Student Council moving to introduce booklet voting.
The motion to introduce the new format was passed 12:7 (one abstention) at a council meeting, with some students present arguing the decision will bias smaller tickets.
When students at Clayton campus go to the polls in Week 9, they will find tickets with 15 candidates or more featured on the front page, while smaller tickets will be listed inside.
Grassroots, Climate Action and Together are the only tickets that will qualify for the booklet cover.
An observer at the meeting, who did not wish to be named, told MOJO News the change was undemocratic as it created hurdles for smaller parties.
“It was obviously very contentious, and pretty upsetting because 15 candidates is a pretty huge number and it leads the way for big parties to use their momentum to stay in power,” the observer said.
“The atmosphere [at the meeting] was very, very tense.”
Monash Clubs and Societies ex-vice president James Whitehead said the regulations will give greater exposure to bigger tickets.
“Just by the virtue of having front page voting to exclusive, large groups means that more people would just be given the opportunity to just fill out a ballot automatically without ever having to open or read the book,” Mr Whitehead said.
However, MSA Secretary Jett Fogarty said it was the best voting method for 2019.
Mr Fogarty said the council debated the regulations for five and a half hours and amended the Election Regulations despite dissent from the Grassroots and Rainbow Collective tickets.
“We changed the regulations based on feedback to better protect smaller tickets,” Mr Fogarty said.
“Originally it was going to require 35 candidates to be on the front cover of the booklet.
“That was then dropped to 15 as a result of consultation with smaller tickets.”
The original proposal by the council was that votes on the front page would supersede any votes inside the booklet.
This was subsequently amended so any votes on the interior will override votes made on front page.
Booklet voting was introduced after a report filed by Returning Officer Gavin Ryan said the use of multiple ballot sheets caused substantially long waiting times for voters in 2018.
Mr Fogarty said it is likely in-person electronic voting will be introduced in the future, however MSA did not have the technical capability to execute this in the upcoming election.
“Inside the polling place would be an iPad where you’d get a unique code, meaning that we would not have to use as many pieces of paper, we could get through people faster, we could get results instantaneously.”
He said ‘link voting’ – where students receive a link to a website via their student email – is unlikely to be on the cards, due to issues of foreign interference and a poor democratic outcome.
Students will go to the polls between September 23-26.
For more information about the MSA elections, click here.