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Byelections smooth sailing for all involved

by The Concordian December 6, 2011
Byelections smooth sailing for all involved

Around 800 fewer students showed up to cast their ballots during the byelections than for last November’s referendum.

And, with a flash of colourful ballots, it was done.
There were no parties left behind at the polls last week as Concordia undergraduate students approved a series of fee levy increases and bylaw changes in the Concordia Student Union byelections.
In the same stroke, students reaffirmed their stance against tuition hikes, condemned downsizing of student representation on the university’s Board of Governors and filled four councillors’ seats.
Wide margins and little controversy characterized the byelections, which opened the polls to students from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1 and saw over 1,600 cast their ballots, representing nearly five and a half per cent of Concordia’s 30,000 undergraduate students. The November 2010 referendum, in which students overwhelmingly voted against an increase in fees collected for the student centre fund, saw a voter turnout of 2,397.
Business students gave their stamp of approval to three new councillors, who were running to fill three empty seats. Their top pick was Eduardo Alves Dos Anjos, who with 130 votes was the candidate with the highest number of “Yes” votes. Thirty-two JMSB students voted against Dos Anjos, and 75 abstained. Museb Abu-Thuraia and Yassine Chaabi were also voted in – Abu-Thuraia with 81 “Yes” votes, 52 “No” votes and 98 abstentions and Chaabi with 92 for, 46 against, and 97 abstentions.
In an email, Dos Anjos credited his win to “the fact that JMSB students saw in me someone they can trust and rely upon,” adding that he benefited from the campaign experience of his advisors. Chaabi called the victory “unexpected” and attributed her win to her class speeches throughout the campaign period.
Both of the candidates who responded to requests for comment expressed positive feedback for chief electoral officer Ismail Holoubi. Both congratulated Holoubi on a job well done, and wrote that they were not aware of any electoral infractions committed.
The CEO did field questions from at least one concerned student. A few minutes after 7 p.m. on Nov. 29, Francisco Juarrero emailed Holoubi to voice his concerns regarding behaviour he considered to be possible electoral violations. Juarrero explained that two of his friends had pointed out non-regulation behaviour behind the polling desk. One friend told him that his ballots were put inside envelopes instead of into the box. Another friend, not paying attention, handed the ballot to the clerk and did not see where the clerk placed it.
In reply, Holoubi said the first case of suspicious behaviour was due to “technical problems.” One of the stations did not have an Internet connection, he wrote, so the clerks put the ballots into an envelope.
Holoubi added that “it seems that such procedure is creating a mistrust and therefore, I announce that this procedure isn’t going to continue during this byelection.”
In the second case, Holoubi wrote that the clerks had no right to put the ballots in the box, emphasizing that it is the student’s responsibility to do so.
It is not known whether further concerns were brought to the attention of the CEO as he had not returned requests for comment on the matter by press time.
Independent students will also benefit from new representation at council meetings. Lone candidate Omar Abdullahi took one of the two available seats with 38 votes for and only six against.
CUTV and CJLO 1690 AM successfully lobbied to increase the fees they receive from the undergraduate population to $0.34 a credit from $0.18 and $0.25, respectively.
A majority of 946 students voted to increase funds allotted to the campus TV station, while 688 were against it. CJLO, which was denied a fee levy increase in the March general elections, found that the second time is the charm with students voting in favour of the increase 956 to 670.

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