Voter turnout was over 22 per cent during this year's AMS Elections — why?

This year saw the second highest voter turnout in AMS Elections history, which the AMS Elections Committee and students attributed to several factors, including heavy advertising, polling stations and referenda items.

Voter turnout has been increasing in recent years, from 6.9 per cent in 2021, 17.4 per cent in 2022 and 22.9 per cent this year.

In a written statement sent to The Ubyssey, the AMS Elections Committee pointed to the distribution of free candy and drinks at their six polling booths this year as a main contributor to the increased foot traffic to polling booths. According to the Committee, over 3,000 students visited the booths across the five-day voting period.

The Committee also said the return of postering this year helped increase turnout. Postering had been banned since 2019.

Each AMS voting booth and poster included a QR code that students could scan for easy access to the voting form, and over 5,000 students scanned this code to vote.

“This is strong evidence that printed campaign materials and our new methods of polling at stations do help promote voting in elections,” the Committee wrote.

Also new this year was an optional information session for candidates held by the Elections team, which the Committee said helped candidates run engaging campaigns.

Some students, like first-year forestry student Shreya Singh and first-year kinesiology student Yasmeen Jalil, said that this widespread advertising from the AMS Elections team influenced their decision to vote.

However, Singh added that the amount of information was overwhelming at times, which led her to abstain from a lot of races.

“Every time I thought about voting and stuff it was just an information overload especially considering the residence election thing was also happening at the same time,” they said. “It all felt kinda forced, so I abstained.”

Singh and Jalil also pointed to the gender-affirming care referenda item as another reason they voted.

The AMS Elections Committee said it was looking to continue to improve student engagement, and Holmes made several recommendations for increasing turnout in future elections at the March 22 AMS Council meeting.