I want to talk about election canvassing. More specifically, Student Union Election canvassing. This year has been my first experience of university elections and I’m so glad that the democratic system of this country has transferred to university. However, the ways in which the candidates tried to gain support leave much to be desired. They were invasive and, at times, slightly juvenile.
For a start, I do not want to be stopped on my way to a lecture, sometimes running late, to be told to ‘Vote Brian’. I’m not that receptive to the finer details of policy when I’m fresh out of an hour long lecture on Fascism in Modern Europe. And please, don’t stand outside my halls with free tea – it’s lovely but I’m caffeine-free so you’re just in the way.
And another thing. Please stop aiming your campaigns towards the female population. Heavy use of the colour pink will turn a lot of us away from voting for you, while campaigns based upon issues encountered by women will alienate male voters. Don’t get me wrong, I love some of the policies being put forward to make aspects of women’s lives easier and cheaper, but how many men would understand or care about such a policy. We may be part of a university with a high percentage of female students, but men count as well and are just as important to target.
The greatest issue I have with this year’s election campaign us the heavy use of hashtags. I don’t want to #BackBob or #VoteForVera. One candidate’s manifesto was so littered with hashtags that I barely took in what she stood for, I was just so put off by the sheer number of different hashtags that were used – I actually looked them up on Twitter, and I got zero results! It was a shame, because the points were some of the best but their presentation seemed to be based upon the assumption that we are a generation of slaves to social media.
All in all, I would probably say I was disheartened by the approaches of the candidates towards the election. I actually favoured the people who weren’t in my face outside Windsor or specifically trying to manipulate my gender and especially avoided those shoving hashtags at everyone. But alas, people like that, despite being annoying, get winning votes, probably because we are just more aware of them. Prospective candidates take note: these techniques may get you noticed, but real voters care about policies, and lets hope that this year’s winners have both!