In the coming elections, the polling station on campus will offer the option of voting with a green pencil. An experiment.
Elections are the ultimate moment for showing your true colours. This idea inspired the WUR Executive Board to engage in a unique experiment: voting with a green pencil. This is intended as a form of what is known as nudging, to lure the voter towards a greener vote.
‘Nudging really means a little shove in the right direction,’ says sociologist Floor de Bouche. ‘We’re doing a lot of research on it in our chair group, with the aim of getting consumers to make healthier food choices.
As the greenest university in the Netherlands, of course we want our staff and students to be the greenest voters
But you can use nudging in a lot of contexts. Actually it’s very odd that no one has thought of using it in elections before.’
To be perfectly honest, the idea didn’t come from De Bouche herself. ‘My youngest son came up with it. He gets to vote now for the first time and he wondered why a red pencil is always used. He would rather use a green pencil: green is his favourite colour. That got me thinking and one thing led to another.’
The Executive Board is wild about the experiment. ‘As the greenest university in the Netherlands, of course we want our staff and students to be the greenest voters,’ says President Houkje Sjeimovaara. ‘A little push in the right direction can’t do any harm, as we see it. We should show our true colours as an institution. That fits the zeitgeist perfectly.’ De Bouche is not worried about the ethical side of nudging. ‘Those pencils have always been a leftie red and no one has made a fuss about that. We’re raring to go. We just need the go-ahead from the Electoral Council.’