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Gross error in ASFA election

by Archives December 4, 2007

The results of the Arts and Science Federation of Associations’ (ASFA) by-elections are being contested after a candidate’s name was left off midway through the voting period.
It has resulted in 159 ballots being spoiled and those candidates vying for a second independent seat are facing a deadlock. Although leading candidate Clara Kwan won by a decisive margin, Chris Castagna beat Nicole Devlin by only seven votes.
The CEO for ASFA, Maryam Behrouzi, had no clear explanation for The Concordian as to why Devlin’s name was left off the ballot for more than two hours after polls opened. Behrouzi eventually had stickers made up with Devlin’s name on them. She said it took most of the day to decide how to resolve the problem.
The CEO eventually decided that all the ballots without Devlin’s name would be considered invalid. More than twenty per cent of the ballots cast were deemed spoiled.
According to Castagna, since the margin of victory represented a mere 1 per cent of the 635 votes cast, the CEO informed him she would not award him the second seat. After Castagna sent a letter of contestation to ASFA, the matter was then scheduled to go before the ASFA Judicial Board for a decision in January.
Castagna said that he didn’t see a problem with the invalidated vote. “I understand that if her name was on the 159 votes that it would have changed the final result . but by throwing those votes out we equal the playing field,” said Castagna.
He claimed that giving Kwan her seat because it was won by a ‘clear margin’ was a contradiction and her decision undemocratic. “She is basically saying a one per cent margin is not sufficient to win an election,” he said. “Not only have they disenfranchised immediately 159 voters, they have now disenfranchised the additional seven who gave me the winning margin over Nicole [Devlin].”
Although Castagna said he technically won the election, Behrouzi said that awarding Castagna a seat would be premature. “If those ballots had not been spoiled I personally think that the result could have been reversed,” she said, adding, “I don’t feel comfortable giving either a seat.”
She said that she would rather have had no result than a ‘tainted’ one.
Behrouzi said that if the elections had run smoothly, she would have had “no problem” awarding Castagna a seat, regardless of how slim the margin had been.
“The point of elections is to see who the people want and to put that person in the position. Based on what happened it was very clear that our results didn’t necessarily reflect what people wanted,” said Behrouzi.
Castagna disagreed, saying “The CEO should have nothing to do whatsoever with the desires and choices of the constituency, that’s what votes are for.”
The CEO said she was referring the matter to a higher body to resolve the crisis. Both Behrouzi and ASFA’s VP Internal Colin Goldfinch claim that this omission resulted from no ulterior motive and they will do all they can to avoid a recurrence of this kind of situation. However, both claimed it would be much too expensive to hold another election to resolve this problem.
Goldfinch supported Behrouzi: “I know for a fact that Maryam was doing everything possible to make sure that the problem was solved with the best possible solution as soon as possible.”

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