There were more than 1,000 spoiled or otherwise ruined ballots in this year’s Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) elections, reports The Charlatan, Carleton’s student newspaper. Many people mistakenly spoiled their ballots — scratching out one mark and making another one, for example, which is not allowed under the election rules.
A notable contingent of voters at the Ottawa, Ontario university deliberately damaged their ballots, however. Some specifically wrote on their ballots that they did not want to vote for any of the candidates. About 100 ballots were purposefully ruined because voters drew penises on them.
The inspiration for the raft of penis depictions came from a Facebook event page titled “Phallus Your Ballot.” Carleton students Joe Ryan and Micah Rakoff Bellman concocted the page.
“Hey Carleton, if we’re going to elect dicks, we should at least get to draw them!” it says. “This is an initiative to encourage students to draw a penis or penises on their CUSA election ballot. If you are apathetic towards your student government, be apathetic with a little gusto!”
There’s a related YouTube video as well. “Go into the voting booth but instead of picking any of the candidates, draw a nice, old penis,” the video’s narrator instructs. “Be sure to snap a picture of your masterpiece.”
Third-year journalism student Sam Corey suggested that students who participated intentionally wrecked their ballots because they don’t think the student government does much good. He said he drew a giant penis on one of his ballots but voted another one. (Students apparently receive multiple ballots with different candidates for different offices.)
“They’re putting their own personal interest ahead of students at Carleton,” Corey told The Charlatan.
For example, Corey charged, CUSA incessantly debates offensive speech, which it can do little to control, but ignores what he sees as a complete lack of school spirit on the large Ottawa campus.
“They’re really more concerned about it as a resume-builder instead of what’s best for students,” Corey added.
Chief electoral officer Sunny Cohen told The Charlatan that, in all, about 1,200 ballots were spoiled or rejected.
Carleton University made headlines last month when a seventh-year student destroyed a newly-installed “Free Speech Wall” on campus less than a day after it was installed. The student, undergrad Arun Smith, later described free speech as an “illusory concept” and proclaimed that “not every opinion is valid, nor deserving of expression.”
At least until very recently, Smith served in Carleton’s student government as a human rights representative.