The CSU referendum, scheduled for the last week of October, was cancelled when election officials failed to show up and open the polls.
The announcement of the referendum’s cancellation came on Tuesday morning, just before an injunction, challenging the vote’s legality, was to be heard by a Quebec superior court judge.
According to deputy electoral officer Nestor Sanajko, speaking at a CSU council meeting on Thursday, he was told by administration officials they had received a letter from then chief electoral officer (CEO), Jason Druker, informing them that Sanajko was now the CEO.
He said he received a phone call on Monday from Concordia IITS, who set up the CSU’s voter database, asking him to sign documents as the CEO.
“I went and asked a number of other administrators if I [was the CEO] and they all replied that I was. This was news to me,” he said.
Aware that his appointment to CEO was not official, Sanajko resigned.
“I wasn’t going to take on these responsibilities and liabilities,” he said.
Druker, who is no longer a student and therefore ineligible for the position under CSU regulations, told councillors that he had still been organizing the referendum.
Councillor Amine Dabchy then asked Druker if he knew the CEO was required to be a student.
“Do you know that you broke a CSU rule, by organizing an election knowing that you are not a student?”
“I think not having an election when you guys call an election is also breaking a rule,” replied Druker.
Dabchy tried again. “I was asking you, did you know that you had the responsibility of organizing a referendum, and you did that, you took the responsibility even knowing that you were not a student?”
“Right,” answered Druker.
“This is breaking standing regulation book six 153, you know that, did you know that you broke a rule?” said Dabchy.
“So what?” replied Druker.
Councillor Shandell Jack then asked Druker to officially resign. After a short pause he agreed.
But Druker maintains the CSU will still have to pay for the cancelled referendum. “There are ballot bills to be paid, there are employees to be paid, I don’t know if the laptops will have to be paid, and Nestor, my DEO, and myself will also have to be paid for our time.”
While council replied to this with laughter, after the meeting Druker said he is serious, since ballots had already been printed and he should be paid for the work he did.
“I think that between my DEO and I, we should get paid about $3,000, I think we put enough work in the weeks before the vote, putting up posters, making them, making the website, we deserve that.”
Including his salary, Druker estimates the total cost for the cancelled referendum at $5,000.
“If André [Leroy, CSU VP finance] doesn’t want to pay me what I’m owed, there’ll be a problem,” he said.
But Leroy said Druker won’t be getting paid.
“I can tell you that we won’t be reimbursing any of the costs for this election that we can at all avoid,” he said. “I’m not going to be paying for anything, except where avoiding would bring consequences on the CSU.”
Leroy said no money had yet been paid for the cancelled referendum and that election staff, including Druker and Sanajko, would not be paid.
“I think that we’re going to be looking very carefully at this at our next meeting,” said councillor Katherine Bélanger. “This misappropriation of funds is not acceptable, and we are going to have to get to the bottom of this clearly fraudulent action.”
With files from Ben Ngai.