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ASFA looking to overhaul electoral system

by The Concordian October 25, 2011
ASFA looking to overhaul electoral system

At Thursday’s council meeting, former ASFA CEO Nicolas Cuillerier expressed his disappointment with the electoral violations his successor committed. Photo by Navneet Pall

The Arts and Science Federation of Associations is looking at getting back on track following a week of electoral controversy that ended with the resignation of its chief electoral officer.

ASFA VP internal Schubert Laforest said on Monday that the federation will run an intensive campaign to find a new CEO and to properly train the candidate after the previous CEO quit on Oct. 20, leaving a trail of electoral violations behind him.

“We’re going to make sure we get the word out there through our website, through social media, and word of mouth,” said Laforest. “Ideally, we would like to have someone by November. This shouldn’t be a problem. It gives us time to learn from the mistakes of the past CEO.”

Those mistakes, committed during the Oct. 12 and 13 byelection by former CEO Marvin Cidamon, include hiring a former ASFA executive as a polling clerk, not providing executive summaries at all polling stations, and failing to properly announce the results of the elections. These violations, originally revealed in a Concordian article on Oct. 15, were then referred to ASFA’s judicial committee by Laforest and Cidamon himself on Oct. 19, only to have the deliberations pushed to a later date after a potential conflict of interest was declared by JC member Nicholas Pidiktakis.

Pidiktakis ultimately stepped down from his position, indicating in his letter of resignation that he had been present at the counting of the ballots on Oct. 13 and helped collect them, disobeying the CEO’s orders.

“Given this fact, in order to preserve the integrity of ASFA as an institution for all arts and science students and also to preserve the integrity of the Judicial Committee as an independent, a-political, and non-partisan body within ASFA, I have decided to resign in order to facilitate this preservation,” Pidiktakis wrote in the letter, which was read at the Oct. 20 special council meeting by JC member Justin Famili.

At the council meeting, former ASFA CEO and current Concordia Student Union chair Nicolas Cuillerier expressed his disappointment with the plethora of electoral violations committed by Cidamon, as well as his general disregard for Annex A, the document that establishes how an ASFA election is to be carried out and which was modified last April after Cuillerier made several recommendations to strengthen it.

Cuillerier went on to mention that at some periods during the byelection, polling stations either had one worker or none at all, as well as pointed out the fact that some students could have had the possibility to vote twice because polling clerks were not always indicating in the computer system who had already voted.

“These violations just set a really, really dangerous precedent,” said Cuillerier at the meeting. “It’s dangerous to have a laissez-faire CEO. Marvin is a good person, but good people don’t necessarily make good leaders. And a CEO has to be a good leader.”

Going forward, ASFA is looking at analyzing Annex A to clarify certain regulations and avoid repeating the violations that were committed by Cidamon. ASFA will also be looking to fill positions on the JC, which currently doesn’t have enough members to reach quorum.

“It was a learning process. When the election started we had a huge debacle unfold right away,” said Laforest. “In hindsight, it showed a lot of flaws in ASFA’s regulations. But the good thing is that it showed the flaws that need to be fixed so that this never happens again.”

The ballot recount conducted by the JC on Oct. 24 found that the byelection’s three winners – Alexis Suzuki for VP communications and promotions, Paul Jerajian for VP external and sustainability and Yasmeen Zahar for independent councillor – were indeed the rightful winners.

With files from Alyssa Tremblay.

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