SU appealing election further

By Chris Beauchamp

The Students’ Union Tribunal has agreed to hear the SU’s appeal of the Review Board’s decision to overturn the 2004 SU General Election.

The Review Board ruled in favour of failed presidential candidate Phil Barski, declaring that voting irregularities centered around the online voting software designed by Sorex Software Inc. materially affected the outcome of the election.

"I am pleased to see that the Tribunal chair has accepted the SU’s appeal," said SU President Jayna Gilchrist.

The SU appeal submission claims the Review Board "misapprehended the evidence adduced before it," by misinterpreting the relevant common law and SU bylaws. Contending the election was conducted in accordance with the bylaws, the appeal accuses the Review Board of laying the burden of proof on "the respondent [the SU] rather than the applicant [Barski]." It also ignored the effect a re-election would have on the franchise of the more than 6,300 students who voted, noting students graduating this year would be ineligible to vote in a fall election.

"[We’re pursuing this] more for the students’ right to vote than Phil Barski’s right to be president," said Hardeep Sangha, speaking on behalf of Barski. "We feel confident we’re not just blowing smoke and the Review Board proved that."

Sangha would not confirm if External Commissioner-elect Matt Jenkins, Barski’s Review Board counsel, would be serving again as Barski’s counsel for the Tribunal.

"That’s a surprise," he said. "We have a few cards up our sleeve."

The Review Board heard evidence Thu., Mar. 18 from Sorex Director Mark Wrubleski that a potential flaw in the system may have allowed some voters to inadvertently vote using another student’s ballot. This scenario would mean the first student would lose their ability to cast a vote and the second student could then be able to vote again using their own identification. Due to the built-in anonymity of the system, it is unknown how many times this may have occurred.

The SU appeal includes new evidence from students who submitted complaints over the course of the election. Of 22 formal complaints received related to system time-outs in which the complaining students ID number was given, 21 students replied to a follow up e-mail by Chief Returning Officer Shuvaloy Majumdar confirming they were later able to vote.

Looking to have their concerns addressed, SU President-elect Brian West and the executive cabinet-elect have filed for intervenor status in the Tribunal hearing.

"I’m actually feeling pretty confident," said West. "I think a good case has been put forward by the SU."

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