Council Elections 2016: Fresh Spins, so All’s Fair

by Noor Adilah (17S06B), Jeanne Tan (17A01B), and Carman Chew (17A01D)

As Council nominees prepare their speeches and the school prepares to cast their votes, Raffles Press is here to distill key changes in the format of Council Elections, and their effects on campaigns this year. We got in touch with the Council secretaries and nominees to discuss the reasons for the changes and the effect that they could have on the elections.

Changes that have been put in place this year:
SMS voting has changed to Printed Forms which will be filled during civics after the speeches during assembly this Wednesday
Last year, SMS was the main tool used for Rafflesians to vote in their choice of candidates. However, this method of voting has proven to be limited as a sizeable number of Rafflesians did not send in their votes because they forgot, or because they did not want to vote. This year, Council hopes that the, the printed Optical Answer Sheets (OAS) will hopefully compel students to vote (under the supervision of their CTs) and increase voter participation.

This form of voting has yet to prove its effectiveness, but most candidates agree that it is likely to maximize voting rates.

Morning interactions have been introduced as a part of each group’s campaign.
Last year, candidates could choose to have rallies or speeches in the mornings to gain attention for their campaigns. It helped with publicity, but lacked any real interaction or back-and-forth between the nominees and the voters. This year, Council has chosen to take a different approach.

Candidates roamed the canteen this morning to talk to Rafflesians about their campaigns and to promote themselves. These morning interactions were made compulsory to the candidates’ campaigning process as it gives the candidates time to personally meet the student population to promote their campaigns.

And this has proven effective to some nominees, who find that the morning interactions have helped them provide a personal touch to their outreach during the brief campaign period. One Year 5 student recounts being approached by a candidate, who took the time to explain his campaign and goals personally and to express his enthusiasm for Council. 

However, one candidate notes that these interactions could be more useful at other times of the day, to account for those who come slightly later, or those who aren’t morning people. “The interactions shouldn’t be so early in the morning … Most of the people I know wouldn’t be in school by 7. Instead, maybe interactions should be throughout the day, to see how candidates conduct themselves throughout the day,” says Tan Yiwei Ivan, from HH01.

Campaign videos were made compulsory for every election team.

Curious students looking upon the entertaining yet informative videos.

Curious students looking upon the entertaining yet informative videos.

The videos screened in the canteen showcase each team’s aims and promote them to the student body, as a way to increase the visibility of each group’s individual messages. In previous years, the option to make a video was up to the choice of the nominees. However, this year it has been made compulsory for all.

These videos are meant to level the playing field for all council candidates, so that they may be equally recognized and exposed to the school through interactive means. This could be especially helpful for JAE students, who may not be as well recognised by the student population as their RP counterparts. The video this allows them to be seen and get noticed by more people, as the videos are screened throughout the day.

Some election elements which weren’t changed were the boards at the canteen walkway as well as campaign speeches. Like the other initiatives, these efforts are meant to expose the candidates and the values and initiatives they are working towards to the school population. A considerable number of these interesting displays were constantly being viewed by members of the school population.

council 3

A voter scrutinizes campaign boards.

Great effort is also put into ensuring a level playing field for all candidates, including the ban on the use of social media in campaigning. This is made to ensure that candidates who have fewer followers on social media are not disadvantaged. After all, council elections are not meant to be a popularity contest.

Some nominees believe that making these videos compulsory, along with morning interactions, have set a definite structure to elections so that campaigning is more formalized and equal in the presentation of candidates. “The videos give the school an image of what we as a team want to achieve and how we wish to present ourselves and our methods to the school,” says a candidate who wished to remain anonymous.

Overview
The changes this year have certainly done much to spice up the overall campaign experience for the nominees. The new requirements have given them additional methods of promoting themselves, while challenging them to come up with more methods to stand out.

However, the rigidity of some of the new requirements has posed many challenges to some candidates. The fact that so much material had to be generated in so little time, with new team members and under less-than-ideal working conditions was something that the council secretaries wanted to achieve. Their purpose was to show candidates the amount of work, commitment and flexibility required to be an effective councillor. Many candidates stated that more time would have been ideal, but still expressed understanding in the fact that these challenges may be the beginning of many future potential opportunities to come.

All in all, the Council election process is very much tailored to helping each nominee to get a taste of the Council experience, and to make sure that everyone has a level playing field when it comes to winning the confidence of the student population. Council is working towards creating a democratic election which is based on the candidates’ abilities and initiatives. Voting is every Rafflesian’s right to make a statement and push the school towards positive change. In the words of Agatha Lim (16A01B), one of the secretaries for Council, “You are voting for council’s future and the school’s future.”

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