Good candidates don’t win elections

Let’s face it: elections aren’t won simply because candidate A is a better candidate than candidate B. And this reality is nowhere more true than in the quickly approaching Students’ Union elections.

Unfortunately, many factors come into play to determine the outcome of the elections. Block voting like the “Rez vote” the “Dinos vote” or the “clubs vote,” poster quality, candidates’ campaigning, charismatic performances at forums and a whole host of things outside of qualifications and ability to do the job undeniably sway votes–and yes, this includes the Gauntlet.

Past responses to criticisms were typically that the Gauntlet doesn’t have the effect over elections that critics claim. Students, they would say, are smart enough to research and vote for whomever they want. Look at least year’s elections, they might continue, the Gauntlet only picked one out of three races correctly.

While these are good points, at the same time we shouldn’t be naïve. The Gauntlet is the most widely read publication on campus, and save for the engineering students’ “newspaper” the Gag, the only outlet providing opinions on election candidates. This is a situation–and subsequently a responsibility–we take very seriously.

The process this year followed modifications made to last year’s supplement to make the proceedings more fair and transparent, with a few small changes. We met with each candidate over two days, and after they gave a quick speech, we asked the same standardized questions we asked others in their race. Following that, we picked their brain about their specific platforms and ideas, focusing less on knowledge-based questions this year–they will learn who Bryan Pryde and Greg Curtis are on the job–and labeled each candidate as either “qualified” or “unqualified.” Everyone in the committee then voted for their pick, listed individually at the end of the supplement.

People will ask over the next two weeks, and rightfully so, why we even run a supplement in the first place? As a newspaper, campus or otherwise, we offer our opinions on many aspects of campus life all year long. Why would we hold back on elections, perhaps one of the most important issues surrounding student politics? These people are going to represent upwards of 25,000 students to university administration, government and the media. They will be our advocates in tuition matters, they will help shape academic policy and provide us with the many services students use on a daily basis.

We follow student politics week in and week out, and know how the system works. What’s more, everyone in our committee has seen three or four years of student politicians come and go, seeing what works and what doesn’t. We’ve seen the inner-workings of the SU and some of the candidates in action. We are qualified.

But again, we’re not the only players in the election. Just as much weight, if not more, should be placed on the voters. The information is out there, and it is easy to find. By now, you’ve seen the posters draped over the campus. Many candidates have websites–or at least e-mail addresses for your questions–and will be on hand at SU election forums. In a week, five people will be given a $24,000 per year salary from your money, and it is in your best interest to have a say in who those people are.

Read the Gauntlet’s supplement as well as the SU’s in the same issue–and take each with a grain of salt. Become informed and vote. After all, these races are often won by a few dozen votes. This may be the only election where your vote will actually matter.

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