By James Keller
UPDATE (April 17):Review board finds in favour of Chief Returning Officer Jordana Hennigan, said Students’ Union Academic Commissioner Duncan Wojtaszek. According to Wojtaszek, the board decided that she acted within the bounds of her authority. ?>
The controversy surrounding the Students’ Union General Election in March yielded two applications to the SU Review Board requesting official scrutiny of the proceedings.
The applications were filed by SU Academic Commissioner Duncan Wojtaszek and Operations and Finance Commissioner Mark Counsell. Both questioned the validity of Chief Returning Officer Jordana Hennigan’s decision to extend voting after balloting failed to start on March 13 due to computer problems. However, the Board accepted only Wojtaszek’s petition for a hearing on April 10.
“It’s not so much that I feel the election was unfair,” said Wojtaszek, whose petition sought “censure” against the CRO from the Board. “I just want the review board to clarify for future CROs that the CRO doesn’t set the voting days, the Students’ Legislative Council does.”
According to Wojtaszek, although election bylaws were broken when voting was interrupted as there were not three full days of voting, extending the voting period for an extra day was an even greater breach.
“The bylaw states [students] must be given notice,” said Wojtaszek at the review board hearing, adding this notice must be published in a regular campus publication. “Although it would have been impossible to meet [that requirement], sufficient notice to satisfy the bylaw was not given.”
Hennigan maintained that her decision satisfied election bylaws.
“I was told to make a decision that was fair in the spirit of the bylaws,” she said at the hearing. “The bylaws don’t say whether or not I could extend election days.”
Though Wojtaszek’s application focused primarily on the bylaw violation, he felt the extended voting affected the election results. Unlike Counsell, whose application requested the invalidation of the election results, Wojtaszek did not believe the outcome was unduly influenced by the extension.
“Individuals voted on Monday, so it did affect the election,” he said. “Just not to the point I feel it should be declared invalid.”
Hennigan maintained that the added day did not compromise the fairness of the election as no candidate was given an advantage.
“What was fair for the election is what students would want,” she said. “In all fairness, each candidate had an equal opportunity to campaign over the weekend.”
While the Review Board had not announced the decision at press time, Chair Erin Iverson expressed satisfaction with the hearing.
“I think the hearing went well,” she said when deliberation was complete. “I think [Wojtaszek] backed his argument very well, as did the respondent and gave us a lot to think about.”
For the full Review Board decision, visit gauntlet.ucalgary.ca.