STUSU restarted election, voter turnout increased

    Still of voting. (Element 5 Digital/Unsplash)

    The St. Thomas University Students’ Union (STUSU) announced its restarted general election results on March 2, officially electing Ellie Namit for president and Ana Lucía Pavón for vice president education, the only contested positions. 

    The election saw a turnout of 24.2 per cent an increase from the 21.8 per cent on Thursday’s invalid election. The 24.2 per cent that casted their votes represents 389 out of the 1607 eligible electors, up from 350 on Thursday.  

    This turnout is a substantial increase from the 9.1 per cent that voted in last year’s spring general election. 

    During Thursday’s invalid election, Namit received 186 votes to win the position of president. They received 223 votes in the now official election. Ana Lucía Pavón was elected with 207 votes in Thursday’s vice president of education race, and this time she received 217 votes.  

    The reason why the elections had to be restarted was a violation of STUSU’s by-laws. According to Article 5 Section 3, online polls need to open a minimum from 8 a.m. on the first day of voting until 6:00 pm on the final day of voting, making it a policy to have a two-day election at the shortest.  

    At the SRC meeting on March 1, the union’s president Stevie DeMerchant apologized to students and candidates for the inconvenience and encouraged them to vote once again. 

    “We apologize for this inconvenience to everybody. And we’re hoping we’re going to be able to move forward from this with transparency, accountability and action on our behalf.”

    At that same SRC meeting, the union voted to allow STUSU to share content from candidates’ campaigns on its social media, even though this action was already taken. According to vice president administration Ahmik Burneo, the initial act to share campaign information was “to ensure [candidates] get exposure once again,” but he admits it was in violation of the by laws. 

    Article 4 Section 10 reads, “The Chief Returning Officer shall have no jurisdiction over campaign materials posted or distributed in residences or off-campus.” 

    Burneo later said in an interview that it was the Chief Returning Officer who planned a timeline of the elections, but the union did not catch this violation until after the elections closed. 

    STUSU’s Chief Returning Officer Felomena Deogratsias declined an interview with The Aquinian twice, once for breaking news and later for this article. 

    Related: Weekly briefs: Feb 26 to March 1

    The official election results also confirmed the following uncontested positions:

    • Vice-president of student life, Alberto Chavez.
    • Social inclusion representative, Aidan Steeves.
    • Sexuality and gender diversity representative, Brizi Fabrizi.
    • Board of governors student representative, Kate Hache.
    • Student senator, Maleah Jayne Welton.
    • Grad class president, Taylor Watson.

    The position of vice-president administration is vacant due to not having a successful candidate and will be available in STUSU’s fall byelection next academic year.