Home News The rules have changed amid campaigning allegations

The rules have changed amid campaigning allegations

by Jacqueline Di Bartolomeo March 31, 2011

Midway through polling, the rules of the game have been changed. In the midst of allegations that one team is campaigning during the polling period, chief electoral officer Oliver Cohen has tightened restrictions on candidates. Candidates are now no longer allowed to be near polling stations up to 20 metres, nor wear their campaign shirts (inside out or otherwise) or say anything about elections other than “Go vote.”
The allegations against the Action slate candidates are being fed by their continued presence in the vicinity of polling stations on both campuses over the past two days.
The contentions surfaced Tuesday after candidate for VP clubs and student services Leslie Reifer was allegedly recorded by journalism student Corey Pool telling students to “Vote Action.” (Some students have suggested that the voice on the audio recording is not Reifer’s.)
Reifer and VP finance hopeful Tanya Ng spent the day in the MB building Wednesday speaking to students and wearing team colours, while executive candidates Teresa Seminara and Georges Alexandar occupied the Hall building. At the Loyola campus, VP student life hopeful Natasha Launi encouraged students to vote while wearing her blue Action t-shirt turned inside out.
When contacted Wednesday afternoon, chief electoral officer Oliver Cohen said that candidates are allowed within 10 metres of polling station. When asked whether he had seen the alleged electoral violations, he said, “The key word there is ‘allegedly’ and no candidates are allowed within 10 metres of the polling stations and our polling clerks are instructed to tell candidates to leave that area.”
He refused to comment further about the alleged violations. “They’re still issues that are pending and they’re being dealt with.”
However, Cohen later released a set of further directives about the elections by email to the two presidential candidates which barred candidates from being within 20 metres of polling stations. It specified that candidates could speak to students about any other matters besides the elections. However, if the topic of conversation was the elections, candidates could not say anything besides telling the students to “Go vote!”
He also forbade candidates from writing anything on blackboards in classrooms besides “Go vote” and the time and location of polling stations. This comes after a picture surfaced of a blackboard with the words “Lights, Camera, ____” written in the top left corner. The message also encouraged students to vote in the MB building.
Campaigning during the polling period is forbidden under section four of the CSU’s standing regulations concerning elections and referenda, which states that the campaigning period starts 14 days before the polling period and ends at midnight the day before the polling period. Khalil Haddad, Action’s presidential candidate, did not return any requests for comment.
Your Concordia presidential candidate Lex Gill said that Cohen told her, “I can’t enforce [the rules], I can’t be everywhere at once. Of course they’re not allowed to do that but they’re doing it anyway.”
The additional directives came into effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday night. Voting stations close Thursday at 8 p.m.

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