Tomorrow’s AGM will be the culmination of a term of work by the current KSU Executive; but apart from that, it is also an opportunity for amendments to be made to KSU’s Statute by any student.
This year, will see this opportunity be taken up by students Dario Cacopardo and Nathaniel Falzon who have submitted 14 amendments to Section 6 of KSU’s statute, which is the section that stipulates matters related to the election and electoral process. These amendments, if passed, will mean that voting in the upcoming KSU elections will take place online, in a system similar to that used for senate and student representative elections, as opposed to the traditional ballot method.
In a statement on his personal Facebook profile, Cacopardo said the following;
An essential requirement of democracy is participation. Participation involves not only contesting elections, it requires people to exercise their right to vote. As time elapsed, technology progressed and so did democracy.
Unfortunately, in the past years, elections for University of Malta student council have experienced very low participation rates when it comes to voting – some 30%. As a result, I have proposed a number of amendments in order to facilitate and commit the KSU electoral commission to organise the annual KSU elections online via online voting, instead of the traditional ballot method.
It is important to be aware that University Senate, Council and Student Representative elections have been taking place online for the past 3 years with great success. It is only natural that KSU elections follow suit.
This is an opportunity to increase interest and participation, incite debate and maturity, engage a level playing field for all candidates and promote the efficient use of the limited resources and time that we have.
Whilst the system exists, all is left is the political will to change. Next Wednesday, I invite you to join me during KSU’s AGM and write history together. Let us set an example by being catalysts for change.
Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, Cacopardo made sure to specify that he had the full support both of the University administration and of University’s IT Services branch, and that this system of online voting is perfectly feasible and can be put into place for the upcoming elections without problem.
Falzon meanwhile stated that they had no affiliation with any student organisations, and were proposing these amendments so that the “silent majority” of the student body can benefit. The turnout of the last contested election, which was in 2015, was that of 28% including votes from Junior College, a state of affairs which Falzon said shows the critical situation that University finds itself in when it comes to student participation in activism.
The system itself will utilise a powerful online voting system called ElectionBuddy. This is the same system used for Senate and Student Representative Elections. The servers for this system are hosted in Canada and it was made sure that, for reasons of accountability, there are no Maltese involved with this software. The system itself has been in use for four years now, and no doubts over it have ever been raised by anyone; indeed both SDM and Pulse’s Presidential candidates, Carla Galea and Jean Claude Scicluna, along with SDM President Neil Smart Costantino and Pulse candidate Thomas Camilleri were all involved in elections using this system recently, and none of them raised issue with it.
Cacopardo and Falzon have already met with SDM, who seemed to have reacted positively according to them, and will be meeting Pulse later today, with these meeting being in the scope of ironing out any possible issues or questions that either of these organisation have with the system.
On Monday, Cacopardo through Facebook called upon both these organisations to follow through with their assertions in favour of student activism and to support this initiative.
Speaking to this news site, Cacopardo also said that with such a system, the KSU Electoral Commissioner would be in a position to sign off on the final results just a minute after voting is closed. Whilst the senate and student representative results take several days to be published; this is due to the fact that the results require the signature of the rector to be validated. In this case, that waiting time is averted because of the consistent presence of the KSU Electoral Commissioner throughout the whole process.
Will this proposal pass? We will know tomorrow during the KSU AGM, which The Yuppie will be reporting from in real time. Follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with this year’s elections!