09
Feb
09

adventures in nonsense

Feel that these elections have had too much of that feel of High Minded Debate and Coherent Arguments? Well, today is your lucky day, because you’re in for a fantastic adventure in nonsense.

I’m not going to really comment on these in depth, mostly because I don’t think that Ed Durgan’s Complaints have a lot of merit, so I’m probably doing more harm than good posting these. However, I do like how both I and the RBT appear in these Complaints. The cookie thing was funny because I honestly do not remember it happening. I honestly was far too shit-hammered by the end of the night to remember much of anything.

I actually think these are more relevant because of the response of the Elections Committee. The complaints are pretty … unique. The responses shed some light on the issues involved in Cookiegate, and how they have been conducting themselves.

Complaint One

The AMS Election Administration is in violation of the following parts of the AMS electoral code:

Sect. A: 7. (a) Members of the Elections Committee shall act impartially and shall not show bias towards any candidate in an election being conducted by the Committee.
Sect B: 2. The administration and conduct of Executive elections, as defined in Bylaw 5(3), and of Society referenda, as defined in Bylaw 4, shall be vested in the Elections Committee. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Committee shall:
(a) conduct elections and referenda in an unbiased and impartial manner;

The elections administration (EA) has shown bias in its treatment of a complaint made by members of AMS at the Vanier residences. The alleged irregularities involved campaigning with laptops at Vanier on Thursday or Friday of polling week. The EA accused a member of AMS of having „questionable biases,‟ an unsubstantiated claim yet part of the EA’s decision to dismiss the complaint. This complainant was disparaged by the EA through an attack on his personal integrity. The fact that the compainant was a candidate in a different election does not make the complaint any less valid than one made from any other member of the AMS. The claim to such invalidity can only be made from a position of implicit bias.

The bias of the EA against this complainant was also displayed at the Gallery after election results were announced: members of the EA engaged in a joke where Matthew Naylor and another person posed with a laptop and box of cookies. Afterwards Mr. Naylor passed out cookies to members of the audience. The fact that the EA participated in this parody shows a disrespect for members of the AMS in good standing and a bias towards certain candidates.

A second student who also reported the irregularity in question was dismissed for unknown reasons. Since the the EA did not give a reason as to why they decided to dismiss the complaint, we can infer that the EA’s decision was based on an implicit bias in favor of the candidates in question, namely Presidential candidate Alex Monegro, and VP Academic candidate Johannes Rebane.

RESPONSE

  • The irregularities regarding Johannes/laptops was dismissed on the following grounds
    • Disparities between the 2 witnesses statements
      • They claimed they were together when it happened
      • One alleged it was on a Thursday or Friday, the other alleged it was on a Saturday or Sunday
      • One alleged Johannes approached them himself, the other alleged it was friends on behalf of Johannes but Johannes was there
    • No other witnesses, including staff at Vanier
      • After contacting various staff working at Vanier, they informed me of a number of complaints they had received from diligent students/RAs who were all taking active roles in preventing infringements of Housing rules, however, none had seen or talked to any students who had seen such actions take place
      • The head of Front Desk had a student say that he had heard people were walking around with laptops, but had not seen it, and did not know anyone who had seen it
      • We asked the staff to forward to us any students who stated to have seen the candidate walking around with a laptop, but there were no witnesses who stepped forward.
    • Eyewitnesses attesting to actions that were impossible
      • The eyewitnesses stated that many witnesses reported seeing Johannes walking door to door with the laptop and getting students to vote, when there is actually no wireless internet in any of the residences (except Caribou) for them to do so
    • The complainant altering information
      • The complainant stated that he did not know the two eyewitnesses at all, and only had their email addresses, which he acquired when they told him about the laptops incident while he was flyering in Vanier, later the complainant stated that he met the eyewitnesses while he was flyering in the SUB.
      • The VFM Administrator and Elections Administrator were in the complainant’s office when the eyewitness provided his testimony to one of the VFM outlets. The complainant subsequently showed the statement to us, and we asked if that eyewitness was the same person that he had met, and he stated that he did not know the name that was on the website, nor did he know the name of the complainant
      • Later, when it became apparent that the complainant was facebook friends with the eyewitness, he told the committee they had simply befriended each other after meeting while flyering. However, he later forwarded emails showing he had “facebook friended” the individual and subsequently exchanged messages with him the night before. Due to the unique name of the witness, and the recent interaction between the individuals the Elections Committee members found it difficult to believe that the complainant did not recognize the name when it appeared on the blog.
  • The cookies joke was instigated by Tom Dvorak. The EA sees nothing wrong with some ‘humour’ in the elections, especially considering the ‘joke’ was that the Elections Committee were actually the ones who were part of the ‘laptop/cookies’ scandal.
  • I am unsure who/what complaint you are referring to in terms of not responding to a complaint against Johannes. Upon review of all the complaints I received, I have not found one that I did not respond to.
  • As well, Johannes submitted 3 separate complaints against candidates in his own race. Two of which I felt were unfounded, and a third (regarding a slate between Sonia Purewal and Jeremy Wood), was simply dismissed with a stern warning to the two candidates that such behaviour could be construed as slate-like behaviour, and told the candidates they needed to ensure they kept all campaigning separate or face disqualification. If the Committee were biased in some way, they would have used such an allegation as an ‘opportunity’ to support the candidate they supposedly are biased towards.
  • Furthermore, Alex Monegro received two postering violations, one reported by the VFM Administrator himself who witnessed a postering violation; as well, Johannes received a postering violation.

Complaint Two

The Election administration is in violation of the following parts of the electoral code in regards to the Student Legal Fund Society Elections:

Section B 2. The administration and conduct of Executive elections, as defined in Bylaw 5(3), and of Society referenda, as defined in Bylaw 4, shall be vested in the Elections Committee. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the Committee shall:
(b) publicize the opening of nominations for positions in Executive elections in order to encourage as many candidates as possible to run;
(i) ensure that candidates are informed about the Electoral Procedures contained in this section of Code;
3. Subject to the provisions of Article 12 below, the Committee shall have the power to conduct elections and referenda for other organizations, including the election of students to the Senate and the Board of Governors. In conducting such elections and referenda, the Committee shall have the same powers and duties as specified in paragraph 2 above, subject to the provisions of Article 12 and subject to agreements made with the other organizations for conducting the said elections and referenda.
4. The Committee shall conduct elections for branch societies and Subsidiary Organizations if so directed by Council, and in such elections shall have the same powers and duties as specified in paragraph 2 above.
10. The Committee must not introduce new rules or regulations, or alter existing rules or regulations, during the period lasting from twenty-four (24) hours prior to the beginning of the Official Campaign Period of an election or the beginning of a referendum campaign until the final determination of the election or referendum results.

According to these selections of ams electoral code, the slfs elections should have been conducted under the same provisions as the executive positions. I was a candidate in the race for the slfs and I was never contacted by a member of the AMS elections administration. Nominations for positions to slfs were never publicized.

Although I was contacted by incumbent board member of slfs, Aaron Sihota, it was not made clear what provisions, if any, the slfs election would be different.
Assuming that the slfs election should have been conducted under the same code as the ams exec, the following sections of code were also violated:

Article 2: 5. Interview by a Campus Publication
(a) The Elections Committee shall arrange for the publication in a campus publication of an interview with each candidate at no cost to the candidate.
(b) The Elections Committee shall determine which campus publication shall conduct and publish these interviews.
(c) The Elections Committee, in consultation with the designated campus publication, shall set the time or times for conducting the interviews and the date of publication of the interviews.

RESULTS

  • In regards to the lack of nominations for the SLFS elections. Section IX A, Article 12 (1)(c) stipulates: “…the Elections Committee shall manage and administer the whole election from the close of nominations through to the counting of ballots.”
  • The right to an interview with a campus publication is part of the agreement between the AMS and the Ubyssey paper: in exchange for conducting the Ubyssey elections, the paper will provide an editorial supplement for the AMS Elections. It is not something that the AMS provides all organizations who choose to run their elections through the AMS

Complaint Three-A

In the case that the EA designated Aaron Sihota as a defacto member of the EA, Mr. Sihota was in violation of the following electoral codes:

6. Candidates in an election are ineligible to be or to remain members of the Elections Committee. A member of the Committee who becomes a candidate during his or her term of office immediately ceases to be a member of the Committee.

Complaint Three-B

Mr. Sihota endorsed his own candidacy. As a member of the EA he is in violation of the following:

7. (a) Members of the Elections Committee shall act impartially and shall not show bias towards any candidate in an election being conducted by the Committee.

RESULTS

  • Aaron Sihota was never delegated a “de-facto member” of the committee. He was not involved in advertising, never attending committee meetings. Many on the Elections Committee have not had any dealings with Mr. Sihota at all. His involvement was limited to taking nominations, as was his responsibility as an incumbent on the Board of the SLFS, an action prior to any jurisdiction of the Elections Committee over the SLFS elections.


Complaint Four

Two members of the VFM contest shared a facebook group titled: “Vote for BEER in VFM! Support Radical Beer and the Devil‟s Advocate!” With a graphic stating “DA-RBT Alliance.” The group contains the description (in part): “In the Voter Funded Media Contest, the RBT and DA have joined forces for good!…” (See attached file which is a screen shot taken on Feb. 3rd).

If VFM candidates are held to the same standards regarding slate behavior they are in violation of the following code:

11. Candidates shall not run in slates, real or apparent, or share expenses for campaign materials, excluding minor supplies as defined in 10(e) of this article. A slate shall mean a group of candidates who run for elected office (including but not limited to Executive positions and positions in the Senate and on the Board of Governors) on a similar platform for mutual advantage.

RESULTS

  • The rules governing the VFM contest are as per Article 14 of the Electoral Procedures and they stipulate nothing in regards to slates in the VFM Contest.

Complaint Five

The election administration is in violation of the following in regards to the slfs election:

Article 9: 1 (n) notice of deadlines for nominations shall be advertised in the Constituency publication or another campus publication and posted in prominent locations at least seven (7) days prior to the deadlines;

RESULTS

  • As stated in response to complaint 2: Section IX A, Article 12 (1)(c) stipulates: “…the Elections Committee shall manage and administer the whole election from the close of nominations through to the counting of ballots.”


Complaint Six

Aaron Sihota used erroneous information in his campaign material. He has a facebook group titled: “RE-ELECT AARON SIHOTA AS STUDENT LEGAL FUND SOCIETY DIRECTOR” In the description Mr. Sihota states: “I am currently serving as President of SLFS and if re-elected I would work to make the society more accessible to students through a variety of means…” See second attachment.

This is misleading and false information since neither the ams electorate, nor the ams elections, selects the slfs director. The director is named by the elected board after they are elected. While I cannot find regulations in the code against lying in campaign materials this is definitely in violation of the AMS Charter and Constitution. Since electoral code states:

(f) All campaigning, including but not limited to postering and the distribution of leaflets, brochures, and handbills, must comply with all relevant University and SAC policies, such as the University’s postering policy and SAC policies on postering and on distributing materials in the SUB, and with the provisions of the Society’s Policies, Code, and Bylaws.

Misrepresentation of oneself and of the conditions of an election are violations of several of the society’s policies, code and bylaws. Therefore Mr. Sihota is in violation of this part of the electoral code.

RESULTS

  • The statement “Re-elect… as director” implies that Sihota was serving as the director. Due to the First Past the Post method of voting in which students selection 6 choices out of 11, with no ranking mechanism, it would be difficult for students to misunderstand the process and think they are selecting those 6 students as directors since the race is entitled “Student Legal Fund Society” on the ballot, with no reference to director positions.

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4 Responses to “adventures in nonsense”


  1. 1 Alex Lougheed
    February 9, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Can we know who filed these specifically? Some of them are misinformed, if not vexatious at worse.

    Who is for a code amendment that no appeals shall be considered unless cosigned by a candidate in an election? After all, if no candidates think your concern matters, it really doesn’t. I would also be for an amendment that all appeals must be made public by the EC, and must contain the name of that cosigner. There needs to be more risk involved with filing these things, so the elections committee’s time isn’t wasted by people who don’t spend the time to actually research the rules they’re arguing under.

  2. 2 Murry
    February 9, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Not all of these complaints may necessarily require disciplinary action, but the complainant at least seems warranted in making them.

    Ed Durgan, by the way, was a candidate in the election for SLFS.

  3. 3 Andrew Carne
    February 9, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    I fully agree that some degree of changes to the complaint procedure are warranted. Particularly the thought of appeals being public (although potentially without the name attached) would be nice. I can see our next Code meeting being even more fun than usual.


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