USU ELECTION DAY: LIVEBLOG
WORDS BY EDEN FAITHFULL
We’re here: it’s finally election day. No longer are you safe strolling along Eastern Avenue, or across the Redfern run - not even you Engineering students can avoid the inevitable hack hovering around the PNR Polling Booth… and it’s all in the name of democracy. Today is the final day of the USU Elections, with ten candidates fighting their hacky hearts out for the top six positions available on the University of Sydney Union Board of Directors.
So what’s the gossip so far? Since everything is fairly quiet on campus this morning, let’s take a look over the past two days for a bit of a recap. Keep checking back with us though, readers, as we’ll be giving you updates on every hack-on-hack altercation, every confused and harassed voter shoved over the exclusion zone, and every how-to-vote that will undoubtedly be tossed into the air at 6.00pm tonight, inconsiderately littering Eastern Avenue.
On Monday, Pulp conducted an exit poll to determine who was in the lead after the close of Day One. The results were unexpected, with Hengjie Sun taking a strong lead at the ISL polling booth, 32% of votes firmly in his grasp: over three times the result of the next best candidate. At the Manning polling booth, Jacob Masina took out first place with 20% of the vote, followed closely by Adam Torres, with 19%.
Yesterday, Honi Soit’s exit polling had Hengjie Sun out in front again in first preference voting, with 79 votes to Adam Torres’ second place, with 42 votes. Pulp also gave all you readers access to an anonymous forum through which to ask your questions directly to candidates. Questions varied from ‘Hi are you being backed by the Chinese Embassy?’ to ‘Hi Jacob, why are all your policies pretty much Esther Shim’s policies?’
And today, we will be out and about collecting raw data on the ground. Check back soon kids, it’s bound to be a pretty average day of not too much spice.
After a stroll across all the polling booths (bar PNR because I’m just going to go ahead and assume that it’s dismal), Pulp can say with some level of conviction that Merewether polling booth is the place to avoid if you’re a jaded stupol-phobic, as it seems to be the most pumping, campaigner-laden location so far. All teams seem to have popped two or three campaigners there, with the conspicuous exception of the ‘Up and Adam’ and ‘YAS for Zhixian’ teams. Even candidates themselves seem to be holing up there, with Hengjie, Sally and Alex spotted throwing around their how-to-votes.
Manning Bar seems to be living up to its ghost-town reputation (too soon, @USU?) with only a single Team Jacob campaigner lazily pushing campaign material into passer-by’s hands. ISL is performing similarly, as International student candidates Hengjie, Sally and Zhixian have abandoned their solidly confirmed posts there and are branching out, with Zhixian herself spotted on Eastern Avenue. A single Up and Adam campaigner sadly asked me if I’d voted as I walked through what used to be the eternally feared campaigner gauntlet. Seems like the extra four computers they finally set up here have gone to waste so far.
Holme is also a painfully boring location, so please feel free to go and grab some Courtyard yoghurt without fear of being harassed. Jacob, Claudia and Lili campaigners are currently wandering aimlessly around, unable to even keep potential voters in the line of vision, with new and improved exclusion zones reaching outside Holme building and around the corner, whilst the polling booths remain firmly out of sight in the Refectory.
Pulp can announce that, although we have publically claimed to be unbiased, we have finally decided to endorse a candidate. We spotted this late entrant on the way up Eastern Avenue, and we can say that we are 100% down with their policies.
“Free cupcake, Sustainable cupcake, Development cupcake’.
One ‘Upstream with Salmon’ campaigner has been spotted on Eastern Avenue with actual how-to-votes in hand. After having asked a few potential voters strolling down Eastern Avenue if they knew anything about the candidate, Pulp can confirm that 7 out of 7 students do not know who Erika Salmon is.
As I began a second stroll among all the polling booths, I realised that not only were they dismally attended, they were almost completely deserted. After thinking that half of the candidates had given up and gone home after such a low voter turnout, I received word of the fact that all the Labor candidates had suspended their campaigns to show solidarity with the Cuts to Education Protest that is currently happening. Liliana has also suspended campaigning, though it appears as though Team Jacob and Shu campaigners remain oblivious to the rabble-rousing do-gooders, with campaigners leaving Eastern Avenue and moving on to other, less populated booths. Pulp cannot confirm, but can assume that Erika Salmon and her campaigner have bolted off in a huff in response to actual students raising actual concerns outside Fisher Library.
ALTERCATION UPDATE: Sparks are flying as word abounds that Jacob Masina promised to suspend his campaign during the Education Cuts Protest, however it appears he has not lived up to his promise. The large majority of USU candidates were under the assumption that all of the campaigns would be taking a “well-deserved break” during the period of the protest, however Team Jacob have been out and about, doing their thing and "persuading" poor young students to practice their democratic rights.
ANOTHER ALTERCATION UPDATE: Also a report has reached Pulp that one of Hengjie’s campaigners were “violently pushed by another campaigner from another team in front of the PNR polling station.” The report comes from Hengjie’s campaign manager, Sijia Xu, and is as yet unconfirmed.
“What I know is that the guy has pushed our campaigner twice, and there were lots of people witnessed and they separated the two campaigners in case of even further violent behavior happen,” she said.
We don’t exactly know why such violence is being practised in such a sleepy election, but we definitely, definitely are not okay with it. Calm down, guys.
There is nobody at Manning. There is nobody at Holme. There are very few people at Eastern Avenue and Merewether. It seems for now that the hack population have begun to migrate to the Gadical Green, on the Redfern run. Beware, students on your way home! The hacks are coming for you.
It seems that the rest of us are so bored of this election that we’re starting to tell political ghost stories to each other. Just recently, Pulp overheard two campaigners talking about how “If Hengjie and Masina both break quota, then Erika Salmon could be elected! Can you imagine!” That’s right guys, looks like democracy is in fact not quite as clear-cut as you’d like to imagine. It doesn’t matter who you preference last, it’s who’s the best at backroom wheeling and dealing.
In the meantime, Adam Torres of ‘Up and Adam’ has confirmed to Pulp that there was an agreement that votes would not be contested throughout this election, an agreement that in the beginning two days was clearly contravened several times outside ISL. But now that everyone is so calm, and the campus is so quiet… really, feel like pure shit, just want vote contentions back.
And - vote contentions are back! It seems that in the last hour of this shitshow all the bets are off and we finally have an election worth reporting. Almost. We have SRC-election-worthy badgering of voters, frustrated grunts as students ignore the brightly-coloured hacks, and an actual line outside Eastern Avenue polling booth, the only voting area left open.
In eyeshot from the middle of eastern avenue where this reporter is, candidates Hengjie Sun, Alex Shu, Claudia Gulbransen-Diaz and Zhixian Wang can be seen wandering around fairly nonchalantly as the campaigners themselves appear to be taking on the most of the burden.
It appears that campaigners have fortified their courage and are beginning to approach group of prospective voters, even those who appear to be totally unwilling to even listen to them. Who ever thought that maybe student politicians just like the sound of their own voices?
It seems that within this last hour, there’s not too much left to report on. This is it. This is student politics. Why have you even read this far, you filthy, filthy hack? For shame.
Goodnight, and good luck x