The cases presented in two election appeals simply weren’t strong enough, the St. Thomas University students’ union appellate board said.
The appeals by two candidates were rejected by the board last Friday and the result has left many involved thinking STUSU election bylaws need to be clarified.
Frank Jr. Molley was appealing his disqualification for missing a mandatory candidates’ meeting. Molley slept through the meeting after working a night shift in Oromocto. He had been a presidential candidate and was seeking a re-run of the whole presidential election, including speeches and a debate.
Elizabeth Strange alleged her opponent for vice-president education, Alex Driscoll, was standing near polling stations and staring at people voting as a way to get more people to vote for him.
“Obviously I was upset,” said Strange on Saturday about the decision.
“I didn’t think they gave the chance to hear everything.”
In her case, the board decided she did not present strong enough evidence.
In an interview after the decision, Mathieu Carrier, one member of the board, said her appeal was denied because it relied on circumstantial evidence as well as hearsay, and came across as more of a personal attack than a legitimate case.
“A lot of the evidence she presented and the way she presented it, it seemed kind of unprofessional,” said Carrier, one of the two associate appeal officers.
“It was a lot of relying on her friends for evidence. I mean, you could always influence them to swing things your way. And her evidence wasn’t very strong.
“There didn’t seem to be a basis for a positive appeal.”
Alex Driscoll was in New York City at the time of the hearing. Ryan Owens and two others were there to speak on his behalf.
After the decision, Owens said he was satisfied.
“The board made the right decision.”
Strange said the appeals process was not made clear enough to her and she believed it would be a question and answer format instead of just her presenting her case.
Certain decisions made by Sarah Bulman, chief returning officer, were also focal points of debate for both hearings.
She might outline ways to avoid these situations in the future in her final election report due this week, she said.
“There should be a discussion of how the CRO has final say in decisions. So I’m going to start looking through other universities bylaws to see how they deal with this situation,” Bulman said Friday.
“The problem is we’re a small university, we only have so much funding for the elections team so decisions such as who should be disqualified fall onto one person.”
She said she’ll likely suggest a two-person election team for decisions like disqualifications.
Jono House, a member of the appellate board, resigned the day before the hearings because of conflict of interest. As STUSU student advocate, he had helped prepare Molley’s appeal.
The position was hastily filled Thursday evening when STUSU voted to add Carrier to the board.
Strange said people were rude to her throughout the appeals process.
“I want everyone to know that I did not do this out of spite,” Strange said.
“My appeal was not a personal attack on Alex.”
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