ASFA elections are back on

Graphic by Katie Brioux

After confirming last week that the general elections had been postponed indefinitely, Arts and Science Federation of Associations President Alex Gordon told The Concordian on Monday that the polling dates have now been set for March 5, 6 and 7.
The campaign period begins for a second time Feb. 29 and runs until Sunday, March 4.
Gordon said that the original dates following the postponement were in conflict with the Concordia Student Union’s nomination period for its general election and thus new dates had to be chosen.
The ASFA president admitted that the current dates are still in violation of the ASFA bylaws that state that the elections must not overlap with the CSU campaign period.
Despite ASFA’s commitment to adhering to its bylaws, Gordon said “the breaking of the bylaws is what has to happen right now.”
Due to “extenuating circumstances, we had no option but to push back the dates,” said Gordon. “This is the soonest we could properly get the elections running.”
Although there may be some confusion by the time students head to the polls in the midst of the CSU campaign period, Gordon is hopeful that there will be no negative impact on voters. He has been in communication with members of the CSU executives who have been “very sympathetic to the situation.”
The election was postponed due to procedural complications and a lack of communication since chief electoral officer Chris Webster resigned unexpectedly just before polling began on Feb. 15.
Gordon had emphasized since elections were first postponed that they 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 that didn’t allow students with minors in arts and science to vote, made it impossible for “procedure to be followed to the fullest.”
“We can’t legitimately count [the ballots],” he said.
Andrew Roberts, the president of the Geography Undergraduate Student Society, an ASFA member association, feels that the technical difficulties “truly shouldn’t have gotten by.”
“Whether an oversight on the part of IT or on the election officers, the validity of voting hinged on this issue and is a primary reason for the delay,” said Roberts. “It can’t be overlooked in the future.”
Roberts called the postponement “sad but necessary,” and he is not the only member association representative that feels that way.
“It’s unfortunate that things happened that way but I am glad ASFA did not turn a blind eye and pursue the election regardless,” said COMS guild co-president Renée Tousignant. “We would rather have a fair election than a shady one that would see all ASFA associations question the elected executives next year. Overall, we are glad it’s been dealt with that way.”
Former ASFA CEO Nick Cuillerier said Webster’s resignation was partly to blame for the delay.
“We need responsible people who want to take on big projects,” Cuillerier said. “It starts with getting people who are interested in student politics to get more involved on the administrative side.”
Cuillerier went on to say that he hopes future CEOs understand the responsibility that comes with the position. “Sometimes being CEO can be a thankless job and we need to make sure they get the credit they deserve,” he said.
The three deputy electoral officers will continue to oversee the process, advised by VP internal Schubert Laforest. ASFA DEO Luke Gerald added that the 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 was said to resign as CEO was because he disagreed with a decision rendered by ASFA’s judicial committee. The decision was regarding executive candidate Eric Moses Gashirabake’s desire to switch positions during the original campaign period in early February.
In its statement released on 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.
Gashirabake wrote in an email to The Concordian that he plans to appeal the decision.
The JC ruling, issued before the postponement of the general election, stated that 65 votes would be docked from the total number of votes Gashirabake received and that one-fifth of his total campaign expenses would be revoked.
Chris Webster could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him.

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