He explained that after talking with the ASFA deputy electoral officers and the CSU, they realized that their bylaws stipulated that general elections could not overlap with the CSU election campaign.
“Unfortunately the dates that we had chosen last week were not accepted [by the CSU],” said Gordon. “I can see that we cannot cross their campaigning period but as far as polling, that is still something that needs to be determined. We’re working day and night to try to find the best solution and get these polling days up and running.”
Due to procedural complications and a lack of communication since chief electoral officer Chris Webster resigned unexpectedly last Wednesday just before polling began, the electoral committee had originally chosen to move the polling dates until after reading week.
Gordon emphasized last week that the elections were “definitely not cancelled” but that “all voting that’s taken place so far has been voided.”
He went on to say that the complications, one of which was a technical issue with the computers at polling stations, made it impossible for “procedure to be followed to the fullest.” Gordon explained that students with minors in arts and science were not being recognized by the system.
“We can’t legitimately count [the ballots],” he said.
Gordon explained that the deputy electoral officers will continue to oversee the process, advised by VP internal Schubert Laforest.
“I don’t foresee a new CEO being appointed,” said Gordon.
Posters still up
“Right now the election office is still in a transient process and the two other DEOs and myself are working hard to keep things running,” said DEO Luke Gerald. “The fact that the posters are still up represents a grey area in terms of campaigning bylaws, being that the polling stopped and was postponed.”
According to ASFA President Alex Gordon however, the omission does not implicate serious consequences as it does not violate any specific rules or bylaws, especially considering the current situation.
“I wouldn’t foresee that as a violation of campaigning rules in the sense that the elections aren’t done yet,” Gordon explained. “Unless certain posters would have been taken down and would have favoured a candidate over another, there is no real violation of the bylaws.”
Gordon said he was not sure what was going to happen regarding this particular issue, but put the problem in the context of a more alarming situation.
“I assume they will be taken down relatively soon but in the situation we are in right now and given the extenuating circumstances, I don’t see a real issue with it,” he said.
During a phone interview, Gerald also added that the ASFA DEOs were looking into hiring someone with more electoral experience and a better understanding of the process involved in order to help them run the general election.
One of the reasons Webster resigned as CEO was because he disagreed with a decision rendered by ASFA’s judicial committee regarding executive candidate Eric Moses Gashirabake’s desire to switch positions during the original campaign period in early February.
In its decision, released Feb. 16, the JC found that Gashirabake would be held responsible for “breaching the spirit of fair play during the course of the electoral process” for switching from VP internal to VP academic and Loyola affairs, a move that had originally been green-lighted by Webster.
“I am confident that once I contest and present all evidence in light of the matter, that the ruling will be reconsidered,” he said.
Presidential candidate Caroline Bourbonniere, who is affiliated with Gashirabake, said she was “disappointed” with the way the situation unfolded.
Presidential candidates react to postponement
ASFA presidential candidate and councillor Charlie Brenchley explained last week that he and the other ASFA executive hopefuls were informed about the postponement officially via an email sent by the DEOs.
“I had heard talk during the day, but we only found out at about 12 a.m. last night,” he said on Friday.
Brenchley feels that the timing of the cancellation was poor because many students had already cast their ballots.
“It’s super upsetting that for students who did head over to the polls, their votes are being silenced,” said Brenchley. “We need to focus on getting them back to the polls after reading week.”
Brenchley said he agrees with the decision overall, calling it the “right way to go,” due to a “lack of electoral oversight.”
He said he intends to be even more present during the supplemental campaigning days by “bringing extra enthusiasm” and “hit[ting] the ground running.”
Caroline Bourbonniere, also running for president, says Webster’s decision to resign as CEO definitely influenced the postponement of polling.
“It’s extremely unfortunate that the CEO resigned in such an abrupt fashion,” she said. “I feel that the stress and the high intensity nature of the CEO position should be clarified more effectively.”
Bourbonniere said that the campaign has been “a great experience for me,” and although she was hoping to get the results on Feb. 17 as originally planned, “at least I’ll be able to utilize the extra campaigning days to inform students about ASFA.”