Updated: Candidates want re-votes

Controversy has struck again.

Two candidates in the recent St. Thomas University students’ union general election have filed appeals.

And with only two other appeals in its four-year history, the STUSU appellate board is being called on to hear the appeals.

Elizabeth Strange said Alex Driscoll, who defeated her for the position of vice-president education by 99 votes or almost 18 per cent, was standing near polling stations “excessively.”

Frank Jr. Molley is appealing his disqualification from the presidential election. He was disqualified by the chief returning officer because he missed a mandatory meeting before campaigning started. He overslept after working a night shift.

UPDATE: Molley’s appeal hearing will take place in Holy Cross room 5 at 2 p.m. on Friday. Strange’s appeal hearing will be in the same room on Friday at 3 p.m.

Strange is being accused of launching the appeal out of spite, something she said isn’t true.

“I’m a little worried that this appeal might make people more upset with me,” said Strange in a phone interview last week.

“I hope people understand that I don’t think the proper democratic process was followed.”

Sean Thompson, who served as chief returning officer in the spring semester of 2010, said appealing can be seen negatively because it happens after the vote takes place.

But he said “obviously you aren’t appealing unless you think you have a chance of winning.

“I would say an appeal…wouldn’t be worth it unless a candidate can accumulate enough evidence to prove their case,” he said.

Ryan Smith is the STUSU chief appeal officer and chair of council meetings.

Also sitting on the three-member appellate board are Jono House and Shannon Cormier.

Smith said both Strange and Molley “will each be granted an appeal hearing where they can present their case. The board will determine if it is a valid case.”

In the appeal hearing, the burden of proof falls on the appellant to show that something was done wrong, hurting the candidates’ chances of winning.

Each appellant must submit what remedy they are seeking. Strange wants a re-vote.

Molley hopes for a complete re-run of the campaign period, including speeches, a debate and a re-vote of the presidential election.

For those attending STU during the past four years, it’s hard to recall a students’ union election that hasn’t had some kind of controversy.

In 2009, presidential candidate Craig Mazerolle’s name was partially cut off some ballots. The appellate board’s final report said that the problems were serious enough to “bring the election into disrepute.”

The presidential election was held again right before final exams. Mazerolle lost, but doesn’t regret the appeal.

His appeal, as well as one by then vice-president education candidate Ella Henry, who had the same complaints, were the first cases heard by the appellate board, which was created in 2008.

“It’s unfortunate that my case was such a big deal,” Mazerolle said.

For him, filing an appeal wasn’t about being bitter over the outcome, but about ensuring the process was legitimate.

“The issue [of an appeal] is seen as being petty.”

At other universities, appeals are more common and tend to be filed to clarify bylaw interpretation or ensure electoral officers properly conducted the election, Mazerolle said.

He believes the short history of the STUSU board means people aren’t used to the process.

Thompson said he wouldn’t be surprised if the process brings on a debate about the powers of the chief returning officer.

Updates on the two appeals can be found on theaq.net throughout the week.

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  • Show Comments (12)

  • Disgruntled

    Seriously? Frank, you overslept and didn't set an alarm. Deal. Strange- 80% of the student body doesn't care about elections and votes on whose name they recognise, not who is standing next to the polling station. We've had a re-vote every year I've been at St. Thomas, people need to get over themselves.

  • Amanda

    But that's what the appeal process is about – if Strange feels that things weren't handled properly, she is allowed to appeal. Same with Frank. Doesn't mean they're right, but it means they care about a legitimate voting process. As Craig stated, it's common in bigger universities and I don't see what's wrong. If we tell people to just "deal" – we are discouraging their right to critique the process.

    • Common Sense

      What I don't like is that, in the event that the appeal goes through, that's just more money wasted on a re-election. Note: wasted. With an 18% gap in votes between Liz and Alex having a re-election is only going to hurt her; that's what myself and most people I've talked to believe.

      • peace and love

        The following comments are not aimed directly at the above commenters, but rather at others who have posted negative comments on other election articles that are probably reading this.

        The elections were underbudget this year (as they have always been with Sarah as CRO)…so it wont cost anything additional to the stusu. Instead of putting her down and calling her a spiteful brat (as many people have) people should respect the fact that she has the courage to stand up for the democratic process and stand up for herself. If her opponent had been more respectful and followed the rules then I highly doubt the thought of appeal would have entered her mind. But he wasnt so she is appealing. I am absolutely certain that this is not being done out of spite. That is simply not in her character, and even if it were she has good friends that would have encouraged her not to appeal if she were doing it for the wrong reasons.

        If all of this bugs you, dont attend the hearing and dont participate in any by-election.

        • Common Sense

          "The elections were underbudget this year (as they have always been with Sarah as CRO)…so it wont cost anything additional to the stusu."

          It's still an additional cost. Just because there's been a certain projection (budget for the election, if you will) doesn't mean that the total amount of money meant for elections needs to be spent. That's still unnecessary spending.

          I, for one, am going to attend the hearing because this does "bug me" and I want to show my support for Alex Driscoll.

        • Sara

          How does not participating because you disagree with Ms. Strange make any sense at all?

          I have never seen students care so much about an election. Wouldn't it be more beneficial to foster these debates; encourage all who agree and disagree with Ms. Strange to go to the appeal and to participate in any new elections that may result from this process?

          Peace and Love, your logic of "If it bugs you, don't participate" is exactly the same logic as those saying "Strage should just accept the results and go home!"

          I'm not saying either one of these opinions is more correct than the other, i'm just noting the similarity in logic in two different arguments.

          • peace and love

            I meant that if you're upset about the budget issue dont bother voting again, because fewer votes means less time counting which is less money for ballot counters.

            I welcome healthy debate and discussion as well as critique of the democratic process… but it seems that many people involved are being really rude and disrespectful and that is not a healthy debate. alex broke a rule- that is a fact. he was in the same area as a polling station for a prolonged period of time, which is against by-laws. saying so is not libel or slander as his cohorts are attempting to make people believe… however calling elizabeth a spiteful, childish, immature brat who needs to grow up and get over herself is not a fact and is slander and libel.

            if both sides could be polite and kind i would encourage everyone to participate, but it seems they cant.

          • Sara

            I absolutely respect your point of view and agree the level of discourse regarding this issue could be higher.

            However, if people don't turn out to vote it really won't save a significant amount of money. They will still have to pay for all the polling aides and there might be a difference of one to two hours of work for those counting the ballots.

            Also, I believe we need to operate on a 'innocent until guilty' paradigm here. Yes is maybe fact that Mr. Dirscoll was in the same building as a polling station. It is not fact there was an infraction committed. That is for the appellate board member to determine.

    • STU Probs

      Yes, it's common at BIGGER universities. We are not a big university. The STUSU puts their polling stations on places where people hang out. If people are going to get upset with candidates being involved in other things [such as Driscoll sitting behind a poster board selling Chatham Hall pub crawl t-shirts], then maybe they ought to introduce a new rule saying that no candidate is allowed on campus during the voting process, only to vote themselves?

      In regards to the Frank situation, Bulman had said that all candidates had been made aware of the fact that if they missed that meeting, they would be disqualified. It's a shitty situation for Frank, but my understanding is that it is his own fault. He screwed up. It wasn't a Craig situation where his name was cut off a ballot, because Frank's name didn't even make to the ballot. Frank was still asleep when the meeting was happening. I work nights, too, and I've slept through an exam because of it. I didn't appeal it because I knew I screwed up by not setting a proper alarm and thinking, "oh, I'll wake up on time." One just doesn't simply wake up on time in university for anything.

      It's not fair to the entire student body that we have to go through this again and again year after year because a candidate isn't satisfied with the election results. Also, the STUSU doesn't have a lot of the money that bigger unions have at their universities to throw around for elections. We can't afford to keep having elections because someone is [probably] pissed that they didn't win. If an appeal is going to be filed, it should be filed for a legitimate reason. If this goes through, I know a lot of people said they are not going to vote for Liz or Frank because of it. No one likes reelections, whether they're in student politics or real politics. They're a hassel no one wants to go through, especially at this time of year.

      People need to accept responsibility, and accept consequences. We are entitled to "discourage their right to critique the process" if their critiques seem petty or immature.

      • STU Person

        Hear, Hear

  • srbulman

    (There wasn't a re-vote last year.)

  • everyone

    frank is a joke, take your magic and student funded gambling elsewhere and leave university politics to the adults

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