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.