Back to the polls

Appellate board says students’ union in violation of five bylaws

By Jody White

appelate boardThe Students’ Union violated bylaws that resulted in an unfair election, the SU appellate board has ruled.

“It is a unanimous decision of the appellate board that there is sufficient evidence representing errors and flaws in this election that merit granting the remedy sought by the appellant,” said Mike Bell, the Chief Appeal Officer.

In a two-hour hearing at McCain Hall Friday night, the SU appellate board, which consisted of Bell, Martha McClellan and Dan Clayden, heard arguments from appellant Craig Mazerolle and Chief Returning Officer Ryan Baxter who oversees the student union elections at St. Thomas.

Mazerolle argued that the SU ignored nine regulations and bylaws before and during voting days.

He said this resulted in an unfair election, and the only resolution is a re-vote.

“By calling for a re-vote for president, we are both ensuring that this election is fair, democratic, and verifiable, and also we are ensuring that students will have their faith restored in the electoral process,” Mazerolle said.

Baxter admitted that the SU made mistakes, but he said they weren’t severe enough to affect the results.

“I take note of the failures,” he said. “However, I certainly do not believe that the violations of the bylaws that did occur had any influence whatsoever on the outcome of the presidential race.”

Mazerolle submitted about 50 pages of evidence to support his case for a re-vote of SU president.

He read aloud testimonials from students who said they witnessed or experienced problems during voting days.

Such problems ranged from being turned away at the polls because of a shortage of ballots to poll workers neglecting to ask voters for student ID.

“If we choose to let all of these inconsistencies and errors slide … the message we send to students is that even if the candidates full name isn’t on the ballot, if IDs are not checked … even if polling stations turn away students, even if ballots are found during recount … all of this is not enough to call for a new election,” Mazerolle said.

After 45 minutes of deliberation, the appellate board determined that the SU violated five SU bylaws.

Bell said some of the violations were “pretty serious” and should have been avoided.

Mazerolle said he’s impressed with the board’s diligence.

“I was just really excited that the appellant board took the evidence so seriously … and accepted all the major points of my appeal,” Mazerolle said. “I feel like an injustice has been righted.”

Mark Henick, Mazerolle’s opponent in the presidential race, attended the hearing. He said he’s surprised the board ruled in Mazerolle’s favour.

“[I am] a little surprised that [the board ruled] the way they did,” Henick said.

“ I didn’t think that there was sufficient evidence to warrant [a] re-do of the vote … but [the appeal process] was quick, it was fair, and I really have no objections to it.”

Students will head back to the polls to vote for the SU president, but it’s not clear when.

Corben McLean, Vice President Administration, said a bylaw prohibits the SU from holding an election between the last day class tests can be held and the first week of September.

That means the re-vote would have to take place in the fall.

This poses a problem, too, because the fourth-year students who voted in February will not have the chance to vote again because they’ll no longer be STU students.

McLean said the SU executive will hold a “special meeting” to recommend the Students’ Representative Council temporarily set aside the bylaw that prohibits voting from taking place at the end of the semester.

That meeting cannot take place until Apr. 10 because the SU must give the STU community two week’s notice that the meeting will take place.

If the SRC approves the request, it’s likely that students will be asked to vote just before or during exams, which run from Apr. 16-22

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