SAC elections are wrapping up this year with an astounding 45 candidates having run for positions on the council. If you wanted to run this year, well, you’re a bit late. Luckily, I’ve got your back. I’ll help you plan your campaign for next year. In fact, we wrote a guide! Without further ado, here are the 3 steps to win an election:

1. Be the only candidate running. Of course, the easiest way to win an election is to be the only one running. If you’re the only one running, everyone will have to vote for you.

2. Get as much attention as possible. Make sure you are memorable on speech day. Go up there and break a leg – literally. Speech day is the most crucial day of campaign week. It is the day where you can judge how much competition you have (from all the cheering, of course). It is your biggest chance at getting people to remember who you are and vote for you, and make  damn sure that they will remember you. Publicity stunts help too. Think of it this way. Voters are the proverbial toast, and you are the peanut butter. You want to spread yourself all over that toast, and do it in any way you can.

3. Make up a nice and proper platform.  Vow to give the voters something they want, like a transparent budget, or a grad trip, or a carnival, or reform. Make yourself look like a saint, a savior, a hero. Make the public think of what they could get if you get elected. As for actually delivering, you’ll work that out when you get into the office. Worry about the details later, right? As for sounding credible, that’s easy. What you need to do is stick a bunch of fancy sounding words into your platform. Here are some examples to start you off: “fiscally responsible”, “reliable policies”, “transparent management”, “economically solid.”

Volume matters–write as much as possible in your platform. If you’re lucky, they’ll be so impressed that they wont bother to read it.

No government system is perfect, certainly not democracy. As much as I’d like to keep laughing and joking at all the holes in our election process, a faulty election process is a serious issue.  In my time at Marc Garneau, I’ve noticed that the election is much more of a popularity and publicity contest than it should be. Our election process has become more about the person who is running rather than the values they stand for. It’s a race to get your posters up first and to get them in the best spot. It’s a contest to see who can get the most likes and the most shares on Facebook, or the loudest cheers on speech day. It’s no surprise.

This year, candidates were allotted a maximum of two hundred 8.5 x 11 size posters. Two hundred posters. Do we really need two hundred posters per candidate? If every candidate made full use of this allotment, we would have a ratio of nine posters to every one student in the school. This practice is outrageously excessive and doesn’t forward the values of democracy. This year, 834 out of 1340 eligible students voted. This is a 62% voter turnout rate. This means that 38% of our students don’t even care enough to take a minute out of their lives to vote. Personally, I find that rather disappointing, even with the new online voting system. I’ve witnessed firsthand voters who scroll through the voting form, not bothering to read the bios or check the platforms.

Uninformed voting and voter apathy is a huge issue.  If the people who vote don’t even care, there can be no change, there can be no progress. What can we change? To those who do end up being elected into SAC, think about revising the election process, and shifting it to focus on what students should be voting for – the ideas in a platform, not the face on the poster.

To candidates who plan on running next year, don’t exploit the flaws of the system. Don’t make campaign promises you know you can’t keep. Don’t make the process to be a popularity contest. Campaign honourably and campaign fairly. Let the candidate who wins be the one with the best ideas and plans, the one who is most suited for the job, not the candidate who has the most friends.

To students, inform yourself properly. Read all of the candidate’s platforms. Ask questions. Don’t vote for your friends just because they are your friends, vote for them if you believe that they will be able to do the job properly, and deliver what they promise. Don’t be the person that doesn’t care, that doesn’t vote, because despite what you think, your vote does matter. As a voter, you hold the greatest power – the power to choose your leaders.