There will be no polling booths allowed in the Mezzanine or the lobby of the Hall Building for the CSU byelections scheduled for Oct. 1, 2 and 3.
Chief Electoral Officer Stephan Herman was officially informed Monday that polling booths must be placed in other parts of the building because they fall under the ban on tabling imposed last week by the Board of Governors.
According to Chris Mota, public relations officer for Concordia, polling booths are considered the same as student and staff tabling and therefore fall under the ban.
“There are to be no tables [in the lobby or the Mezzanine], period,” Mota said. She went on to stress that it is not only students groups being forced to cancel or postpone exhibits in the two areas, but staff and faculty as well.
The ban on tabling arose because of security and fire concerns due to the large number of people travelling through the area. But it’s that same high volume that makes it essential to have polling booths in both the Mezzanine and the Lobby, Herman explained.
“It’s wrong to remove an access point as visible and accessible as the lobby,” he said, stressing that he will instead be forced to relocate to areas on the fourth and sixth floors.
Low voter turnout has plagued university elections and byelections in the past, although they were considerably better last year with approximately 3,000 students casting ballots for each. Herman still fears that the new regulations will negatively affect voter turnout.
Herman has sent a letter contesting the decision to the administration, asking for an exemption for the byelections from the tabling ban. Mota was unable to say whether an exemption would be granted.
Herman feels election booths should be exempt from the ban because they are a necessity to ensure the democratic process on campus
“I’d just like to make sure that the university understands that elections and democracy fall under a special category. [The democratic process] is integral and important to life at the university.”
The CSU has vowed to openly fight the ban on tabling, as well as the moratorium on public activities concerning Middle East politics. Although Herman is challenging the decision, he said he would obey the regulations if no exemption is granted by Monday, saying his priority is first and foremost to ensure that the elections go as smooth as possible.