SU election results bring surprises

By Amy Badry

While many students are happy with the Students’ Union election results, others are surprised. Votes were tallied March 10 when the new SU representatives for the 2011-2012 school year were declared.

Student voter turnout was up seven per cent from last year with 23.8 per cent of eligible voters casting a ballot.

Current president Lauren Webber thinks the increase is partially due to joke candidates Mister Tiddlywinks and Delilah Swift.

“They just attract people to come watch and come see and they are hilarious,” said Webber. “So people come out to see what they are all about.”

Current student life commissioner and World University Services of Canada co-chair Dylan Jones captured 57 per cent of the vote to become president-elect. Current vice-president external Hardave Birk lost the presidential race with 43 per cent of the vote.

“Dylan deserves it,” said Birk. “He worked hard. He got the vote and he is going to be a great president for the Students’ Union.”

Jones attributed his success to a positive campaign.

“I think the message we pushed with this campaign was that next year we are going to continue to do the good work that the SU does,” said Jones. “This coming year, what we are going to do is step it up a notch and engage with the students to get out of the office a little bit.”

Webber said she was shocked by the results of the election.

“It is exciting, but it is definitely going to be a different SU next year,” said Webber. “I guess we are just going to have to see how cohesive of a team they are.”

The race for vice-president academic was decided by only 534 votes. Ola Mohajer captured 56 per cent of the vote to oust incumbent Alyssa Stacy.

The “Matt and Pat” slate was successful with both candidates handily defeating their opponents.

Patrick Straw garnered 78 per cent of the vote to win the race for vice-president operations and finance against current arts representative Vincent St. Pierre.

Matt Diteljan took the position of vice-president student life with 75 per cent of the vote.

Matt McMillan won 52 percent of the vote beating out Jason Cole and Paul Hamnett to take the post of vice-president external.

Rumours arose that McMillan’s unexpected win– after several unsuccessful previous campaigns– was due to the success of the “Matt and Pat” slate. McMillan previously ran in the 2009 by-election for operations and finance commissioner and the 2010 election for vice-president operations and finance.

“People have been talking a lot about the ‘Matt and Pat’ slate and how [the external] ballot came up first, confusing Matt with the wrong Matt,” said Coles. “It is a little odd, I guess you could say, but at then end of the day the outcome remains the same.”

Hamnett thinks there is some truth to the statement.

“On the election ballot, VP external was right after presidential and Matt and Pat were very popular, but there is no rule broken on having the same first name as another candidate,” said Hamnett.

“I think that the voters made a choice and I am not going to comment on whether the voters made the right or wrong choice,” said chief returning officer Sabrina Grover. “They made the choice to elect Matt McMillan.”

The CRO administers all SU elections to ensure election regulations are followed and enforced.

Grover said voters have the responsibility to be aware of who they are selecting. Confusing candidates’ last names is not something the SU can account for.

“When there are almost 1,000 votes separating me from the other candidates, it just can’t be that,” McMillan said of the results.

McMillan believes his campaign was successful because of the dialogue he created with students.

“I made videos,” said McMillan. “I handed out 1,500 to 2,000 leaflets. Each leaflet I connected with students.”

After students click the “submit” button when voting on their student centre, there is no way to go back and change a vote.

“Talking to a few people, once you go past it, you can’t go back,” said Coles.

Third-year business student Paige Pinder thinks there should have been a way for student to double-check their selections when voting online.

“I think definitely that is a flaw,” said Pinder. “I don’t know why you couldn’t edit your voting after you are done. Maybe if they had something next year where before you submitted it, you could check over who you had voted for.”

Grover does not think the online voting election procedure needs to be changed or improved for next year.

Budget concerns from the election have arisen as well. Executive candidates are allowed to spend a maximum of $300 on campaign expenses throughout the election.

“I just had a meeting . . . with [the CRO] and she said we had to declare the costumes we had in our across-campus dance party,” said Diteljan. “How do you put a price on costumes that were mine? I don’t really know.”

“Election expenses and receipts are still being looked over at this time, as we had over 48 candidates,” said Grover.

Diteljan thinks there are many grey areas in the election bylaws regarding expenses.

Coles, Hamnett and Diteljan expressed concerns over poster policy for the election as well.

According to Section 29 in the SU’s Election Operation Procedures, posters are advertisements smaller than 11 by 17 inches and banners are advertisements 11 by 17 inches or larger. As well, only one banner per candidate can be displayed in an area with a minimum of 25 metres between the next banner and not within the same sightline.

Hamnett thinks poster regulations were not strictly adhered to.

“Candidates should not be restricted by these rules because, in the end, they don’t get followed,” said Hamnett. “It is a disadvantage for the candidates who do end up following these rules and an advantage to the ones who don’t.”

It is the CRO’s duty to ensure all election bylaws are being followed and take proper action if not.

“Overall, most people follow the rules very well and if there was any breach of the rules, it was due to not remembering or not clearly understanding it,” said Grover. “I think there is definitely going to be room for improvements next year.”

Grover was not willing to elaborate on changes that may be made for the future.

Coles was also confused about the poster and banner rules.

“One thing I did find a little strange is the 11 by 17– they could only go on poster boards,” said Coles. “That rule caused a bit of confusion.”

Grover attributes this confusion to the online election regulations not being up to date.

“A banner is anything above and including 11 by 17 and a poster is smaller than 11 by 17,” said Grover. “So what I made was a compromise that if someone had an 11 by 17 that they were using as a poster they could either use it as a poster or as a banner, to avoid the hassle of having 15 candidates going to reprint their posters.”

Coles said there were a few times he felt rules weren’t enforced.

“As CRO you should do your best to walk around campus to make sure everything is set up fairly,” said Coles.

“It is really up to the candidates to make sure they follow the rule because they are written in there and everyone at the SU is there to clarify the rules if you don’t understand,” said defeated VP student life candidate Haley Kluge.

Grover said the rules and procedures were “fairly well outlined” in the election operating procedures.

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