By LAURA PLACELLA
Incumbent ticket Together has claimed victory in the Monash Student Association (MSA) election, after it received 75 per cent of all front page votes.
The executive team, comprising the President, Secretary and Treasurer, were elected unopposed, with no other ticket contesting Together for these roles.
The results, which were released today, declared Together candidates were also elected as Education (Public Affairs) Officers and Environment and Social Justice Officers.
This is in addition to the 13 officer positions already awarded to the ticket, due to a lack of contest.
Together candidates will also occupy the entirety of the Activities Advisory Committee and People of Colour Collective.
President-elect James McDonald said Together is both happy and humbled by the results.
“It’s really encouraging to know the students have clearly endorsed our team and our vision,” Mr McDonald said.
Climate Action, Together's opposition, scored a few of positions on various committees, including the Environment & Social Justice Committee.
Climate Action candidate Grace Britton said the ticket is “excited by the results” and is looking forward to standing up for students.
“That we received  per cent of the vote shows that there is a sentiment among students that more must be done by our MSA,” Ms Britton said.
10.2 per cent of the student population cast a ballot last week, which equates to 3,933 votes out of a potential 38,412 votes.
Voter turnout remains at a standstill, with 10.2 per cent of students casting a ballot last year also.
Voters v campaigners
Many candidates, as well as their supporters, donned brightly coloured t-shirts and stocked up on flyers last week to campaign for their respective tickets.
Similarly to last year, masking tape was stuck along the Campus Centre floor to mark the zone in which they were not allowed to engage with students.
Campaigners were free to approach students outside of the masking tape boundary, with a form of defence the yellow ‘I HAVE VOTED’ sticker handed to voters by polling officials.
Student Aaron Kebbell said he voted this year “to get them off my bank”.
“I was approached throughout the week and it was getting a bit annoying,” Mr Kebbell said.
Together candidate Harrini Ratnanesan said she was disappointed in some students' behaviour.
“A lot of people are just straight up swearing at you, or they just run off, or they give us ridiculous things like ‘I don’t speak English’,” Ms Ratnanesan said.
“Voter apathy is a bit higher this year.”
Student Zahn Gans though appreciated the campaigners were there to make their pitch.
“We got two [campaigners], we brought them together, we said ‘what have you got and what have you got?’ and we sorta made them debate each other,” Mr Gans said.
“Instead of wasting paper as well, we just let them tell us what they’ve got.
“It is good to see people actually engage in democracy and participating actively.”
The introduction of booklet voting this year meant polling officials were no longer handing voters rafts of papers, but only one A4-sized booklet.
Only those eligible to vote for the Women’s Affairs Committee were handed a paper additional to the booklet.
Officials and voters alike noted the process was much quicker, since students were allowed to just tick their preferred ticket on the booklet’s front.
Student Sam Abrams said he cast his vote quicker than he did last year.
“I was like ‘surely there’s more to do’ but no, that was it,” Mr Abrams said.
But sole Activate candidate Jessica Stone believes booklet voting is one of the recent changes that has “locked smaller groups out of the MSA”, with tickets needing 15 candidates or more to secure a front page spot.
“Democracy always comes down to allowing equal representation and these structural and electoral changes have made it harder for students to participate in the MSA election process,” Ms Stone said.
Early last week, she stuck posters around campus to protest Together being elected to 11 Monash Student Council positions unopposed.
Following a recommendation in the 2018 election report, voters did not have to travel to Campus Centre to cast their ballot.
Polling booths were also permanently placed in the Learning and Teaching Building and the Hargrave-Andrew Library.
While solving problems of overcrowding in Campus Centre, student Esnatullah Niazi said he did not find travelling to Campus Centre inconvenient in past years.
“It is easier but I don’t think it makes that much difference. I would be okay going to Campus Centre,” Mr Niazi said.
President-elect James McDonald said Together plans to improve the student experience “across the board”.
“Implementing things like the practice exam database and expanding mid-semester SETUs will help improve students' education experience at Monash,” Mr McDonald said.
“Securing bigger 601 buses will be one of the largest and most profound changes for students to get to campus.
“Expanding welfare services to include more free, diverse and sustainable food alongside more doggos on campus to relieve the high stress students face.”