Despite strong and vocal opposition, a binding motion was passed during a heated special meeting of Arts and Science Federation of Associations councillors Tuesday night, modifying electoral safeguards and the responsibilities of the chief electoral officer.
Much of the opposition to these annex changes stemmed not from the content of the proposal, but its timing.
The meeting was tinged with controversy from the get-go. The two councillors who called the special meeting said they were not even aware the annex changes were included in the agenda.
The item was subsequently voted off of the agenda, to be discussed at the first meeting in March, following the elections.
But the electoral safeguards were soon reintroduced as a motion by ASFA president Leah Del Vecchio.
After almost two hours of debate, the motion was voted on and passed.
But by that time many councillors had already left the special meeting, relinquishing their right to vote. This issue was raised by Applied Human Sciences Student Association president Alexa Newman, who claimed that many of those who strongly opposed the idea of changing election rules mid-election had left before the vote took place. She said this should have been considered in light of the short notice given before the meeting.
In general, most councillors agreed that the proposed safeguards were of a positive nature. Among other precautions, the motion reinforces the CEO’s responsibility in assuring all ballot boxes are sealed and signed every morning and night, and that the boxes are always transported by campus security guards.
Independent councillor Aaron Green was one of the members who called the special meeting, and voted to have the Annex A changes removed from the agenda. But later, Green, who is running for ASFA president in next week’s elections, backed Del Vecchio’s motion, saying the elements of the safeguards are “good precautions.”
ASFA’s CEO, Colby Briggs, said he agreed with the extra security measures, but said that his “office” was already following all of the precautions set forth in the motion long before it was ever proposed. Though he jokingly made references to the Soviet Union, Briggs said he didn’t agree with the timing of the proposed changes, either.
“It’s is just grotesque that we’re actually considering changing the election annex during an election,” he said. “It’s the biggest conflict of interest I can imagine, even if everyone has the best intentions. Even if I agree with the changes.”
Elliot Kmec, a councillor representing the History department in ASFA, also showed strong opposition to the controversial timing of the motion during the meeting. “Right now we’re setting the precedence and jurisprudence that any changes within an election period are allowed. So I think this is a larger concern than anything else.” Kmec is running for VP Internal in the upcoming elections with Green.
While the motion was passed in the end, Del Vecchio was openly dissatisfied with the opposition her motion received. In an email the ASFA president wrote, “I truly fail to understand how electoral safeguards received such opposition and it really disappointed me that I had to try so hard just to get that one motion passed.”