Last week’s CSU election that ended in a victory for Vision has been called the cleanest election in five years. Still, Change, whose executive slate earned the second most votes, wants the entire election to be annulled.
Change was the subject of a smear campaign that compared the slate to Joseph Stalin through handbills and posters and advertised a fake website containing “defamatory content,” according to its VP university affairs candidate Audrey Peek.
Change has submitted 20 contestations to the chief electoral officer, disputing several actions taken by other parties during the campaign and polling periods. “We believe this election was unfair,” said Peek. “We already have a file with the judicial board to disqualify Vision from the election.”
Peek and the rest of the Change slate have accused Vision’s candidates of cold calling students at home, misusing security camera footage and standing too close to polling stations.
“These contestations are a joke,” said Ethan Cox, who ran a successful campaign to be an independent councillor. Cox was also the subject of a contestation, filed by Change, seeking his disqualification. “There is no evidence for their claims. Change is doing this out of spite and pettiness.”
The reason Vision candidates could be seen standing close to polling stations during the election, according to Cox, was because they were monitoring the election process. “We had a group – a huge group of 30 or 40 students with members from every slate except Change, scrutinizing the polling stations to make sure this election was clean,” he said.
Peek said that though the ballot-counting process was “very transparent and very thorough,” the election as a whole “was not fair for anyone involved.”
Peek and others in Change believe the smear campaign was orchestrated by a third party, not by anyone running in the election.
“We’re not looking for Change to be automatically instated,” Peek said. “That wouldn’t be fair. What we want is for the entire election to be annulled.”
Cox said he wasn’t surprised at Change’s actions, but he would be surprised if their contestations went anywhere. “The margin of victory for Vision was too large,” he said. “Any judge would laugh at it.”
While Vision’s executive slate earned 2,114 votes, Change’s executives received 1,505.
Vision’s president Amine Dabchy was surprised by the margin of victory. “I was confident we would win, even though the odds were against us,” he said. “But I was surprised by the numbers. This isn’t a small victory.”
In addition to winning the executive positions in the CSU, Vision won a majority of council seats, both seats on the board of governors and two of the four seats on senate.
One of the reasons Vision won by a significant margin, according to Cox, is because this was “the first year we haven’t had a corrupt election.”
Some critics have aligned Change with six years worth of CSU executive slates, from 2003-2004’s Evolution not Revolution to 2008-2009’s Unity.
“Students have been voting against the Evolution/Unity dynasty for years,” Cox said. “But corrupt behaviour at the polling stations made it so votes didn’t matter.”
Vision also submitted a contestation to the judicial board, seeking the disqualification of Change.
The board is meeting later this week and has 20 days to make a decision.