Poor turnout at QMU by-elections

Jennifer Campbell

Autumn elections at the Queen Margaret Union (QMU), held on November 4, were marred by low turnout and lack of interest for the positions.

This follows on from the Autumn elections held by the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), which saw voter turnout fall by 45%, a several-year low for the organisation.

Eleven new members were elected to the QMU’s Board of Management, while a vote for Events Convener was postponed due to a lack of candidates for the post.

Of the available seats for Ordinary Board members, three were first-year only positions, with one six-month position won in an uncontested vote by Ryan Brownlie and two year-long positions won by Joshua Taylor and Alice Stearn, with James Doherty and Robin Callaghan-Creighton missing out.

Three further six-month positions were taken up by Joel McAnallen, Bateman McBride and Ben Mervis, with no other candidates in the running. Hannah Butler, Colum Fraser and Karin Brims won the final three year-long ordinary board positions, defeating Laura Jamieson, who had served on the Board in previous sessions.

Fraser Ross gained a Former Student Member seat for six months, while Chris Hall won the same role for a year. Both positions were uncontested.

The election returned three losing candidates altogether, with most positions having the same number of candidates as there were seats, raising questions about the levels of interest among students in participation in the union.

The only nominated candidate for the Events Convener position withdrew prior to the election. A second by-election will be held on November 18 to fill this position as well as to elect a new Assistant Honorary Secretary, a role which is now vacant due to the recent resignation of the current Assistant Honorary Secretary for personal reasons.

Turnout for the election featured approximately 260 votes cast, equating to around 5% of the union’s membership. Iain Smith, QMU President, remained positive about the turnout, claiming several other factors played a part in reducing the number of voters.

“I’m pleased that the voter turnout has remained comparable to previous years given the timing of the election and the weather on the day, which, while we still use paper ballots, can have a significant impact on voter turnout.”


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