Candidate Jad-Faraj Abi Semaan disqualified for alleged electoral misconduct
Jonathan Roy was named the new president of the Arts and Science Federation of Associations (ASFA) on Nov. 24 following the disqualification of candidate Jad-Faraj Abi Semaan.
“After careful consideration, following multiple credible complaints of electoral violations, a decision was taken to issue a disqualification of a presidential candidate, Jad-Faraj Abi Semaan,” wrote ASFA chief electoral officer (CEO) Ekaterina Roubanov in a post on the group’s Facebook page on Friday.
“ASFA strives for a fair election process, therefore sanctions are applied when rules and regulations are not followed,” Roubanov wrote.
Roy received 267 of the 491 votes cast by students during the by-election held between Nov. 20 and 22. Abi Semaan received 175 votes, and 44 students abstained.
In a statement to The Concordian, Roubanov said a total of eight people complained about Abi Semaan’s conduct. These complaints were in regards to Abi Semaan’s presence around polling stations during the election and “telling people to vote for him, and talking about his campaign on Nov. 20 and 21,” she said.
Abi Semaan categorically denied all the charges made against him, claiming they are “not based in reality.”
“The spirit of this election was me running against the entire ASFA establishment and the resources they have,” he said. “I made sure my campaign was based on positivity and respect, and unfortunately I did not receive the same thing from the other side.”
According to Abi Semaan, at least three people, some of whom he knew personally, shared material related to his campaign on social media after the campaign period ended, but he contacted them and the posts were taken down “within minutes.” He denied having encouraged anyone to share campaign material.
On Tuesday, the day before the election ended, Abi Semaan said he met with the CEO to discuss her concerns, and he felt the matter had been settled. However, he said he received an email from Roubanov two hours before the polls closed on Wednesday telling him that she had reopened the case and he had been disqualified.
Abi Semaan said he filed a complaint to contest the decision with the Concordia Student Union Advocacy Centre and the Dean of Students. “Even though I didn’t win the election, at this point, I’m contesting the decision based on values,” he said.
Abi Semaan said the CEO claimed she had video evidence of him hanging around polling stations. “When I asked her for the evidence, she refused to give it to me,” Abi Semaan told The Concordian. He argued that any video evidence held by the CEO “is illegal” because he did not consent to being recorded.
Roubanov confirmed that she received “credible proof” of Abi Semaan’s conduct, however details of this evidence are confidential due to Abi Semaan’s contestation. “The matter has been passed to the [ASFA] judicial committee, and no further commentary will be issued pending J.C.’s statement,” she said.
In a statement to The Concordian, Roy said he respects the decision of the CEO. “I am still very happy with the results of the ballot, and am excited to get to work for our students,” he said.
Featured image by Alex Hutchins.