In a surprising announcement today, Elections Administrator Brendan Piovesan confirmed that the race for VP Administration, between incumbent Sarah Naiman, “Scary” Mike “the Rabbi” Kushnir, and Yian Messoloras, has been cancelled. The exact reasons are yet unclear, but they involve campaign rules transgressions on the part of one candidate. Apparently, Messoloras broke the rules when he asked people to vote on his laptop computer on the spot. The elections code specifies that candidates cannot pressure people into voting and they have to be at least 10 meters away from voting stations. All the votes that have been submitted on the electronic voting system, which closed yesterday, will be discarded. This may not in fact be allowed, according to AMS elections code, however.

Article 3, Section 7, states: “if serious offences have been committed by more than one candidate in an election, the Elections Committee may declare the results of that election invalid.”

Cancellation thus requires that there be serious offences committed by more than one candidate. As far as we know, here there’s only one. Also, there’s no power to “suspend” an election – only to declare the results invalid. This decision may find itself in Student Court.

Right now though, brand new nominations for the position apprently going to open, and the new race will take place in February. Questions about why the disqualification of the candidate in question, as opposed to the cancellation of the whole race, was the course of action chosen remain unclear. This development will doubtless bode ill for the VP admin race, which will probably have a lower profile and lower voter turnout due to the delay.

This incident is only one in a string of administrative and political gaffes that have marked this elections period. Other notable controversies include the bungled all-candidates’ meeting, too-short campaign period and late and absent updates on the AMS elections website (including updating candidates’ blurbs in a timely fashion). In addition, if you expect to find candidate profiles, media coverage, or posters near the paper ballot voting-booths tomorrow, you may be disappointed. Uninformed voters hoping to make an on-the-spot decision will find it hard to gather information at the voting booths, since Piovesan has confirmed that neither candidate blurbs, nor bulletin boards for posters will be provided at the voting stations. Candidates may independently bring their posters to the voting sites, but according to Piovesan, they will not be officially organized. “No way. I’m not gonna do that,” quoth he.

In the realm of the Voter Funded Media contest, things are not much better. Voting using the Interpolated Consensus counting system is impossible on Web Vote software, and even a simplified voting system has not been organized on the university-controlled program. Therefore, voting for the VFM contest has been delayed, only to take place after the elections are over. It remains unclear on what system this voting will take place. Speculation about the influence of this delay on VFM results abound: will late name-recognition entries that have done no coverage (like the Science and Arts undergraduate newspapers) end up benefiting at the expense of smaller unfunded independent media? We’ll see.

Of course, administration hasn’t been the only issue. Some candidates seem to have stopped showing up to debates. The BoG debate on Monday was notably missing two prominent candidates, and yesterday the VP External debate did not even take place due to the absence of one candidate. Of course, candidates should have the freedom to determine what the most effective campaigning strategies are, but in this elections it seems like unprofessionalism from the administrative side is feeding the same from the candidates to result in a week of exemplary irregularity.

The elections committee redeems itself somewhat by their funny loudspeaker announcements pulling people in to vote on the SUB’s North side, but whether that’s enough to salvage a voter turnout short of disastrous is suspect.


21 Comments so far

  1. Patrick on January 24, 2008 12:12 am

    Wow, this has been impressively incompetent.

    What BOG’ers didnt show up for the debate out of curiousity?

    As for the ‘cancellation’, this is moronic.

    What should have happened is simple. Have the election continue, and ban Yian from further campaigning, pending further possible punishment (ie. disqualification).

    Should the election be redone, replete with new nominations, I’ll have to consider my options.

    On the VFM front, I am extremely disappointed. At worst, some simplified webvote format should have been bodged together and thrown up there for people to vote on.

    However, provided next week (and I do hope its next week), they put up a booth and have 2-3 days of voting by paper ballot, I will be happy.

  2. Tim Louman-Gardiner on January 24, 2008 12:23 am

    I’m not convinced that the EA has the power to cancel voting.

    On my initial superficial reading, the EA only has the power to declare the results invalid, he doesn’t have the power to stop voting in its tracks.

    And, as Maayan pointed out, there’s no power to declare an election invalid when just one candidate cheats. Allowing one candidate to cheat and invalidate the election is something the EA just doesn’t have the power to do.

    Plus, if you stop to think about it, that’s really really really bad policy. A candidate could just escape a failing election bid by cheating and demanding a re-run.

    The EA can’t just do things he doesn’t have the power to do. Moreover, none of this can be done without the Elections Committee’s approval.

  3. Anonymous on January 24, 2008 12:34 am

    Where does Council fit into this? I know that they have to confirm the election results as official, but do they have the power to override this decision by the EA? I would definitely hope so because as Tim pointed out, Brendan is overstepping the bounds of code.

  4. Patrick on January 24, 2008 12:37 am

    Council is largely a rubber stamper and by and large shouldnt (except in extreme circumstances) overrule the EA.

    Student Court however can give’er all they want based on complaints, and I encourage htem to do so.

  5. Jesse Ferreras on January 24, 2008 1:05 am

    Bijan Ahmadian and Andrew Carne didn’t show up for the BoG debate.

  6. Andrew Forshner on January 24, 2008 1:32 am

    Also, prior to the cancellation of the VP Admin race, only “Scary” Mike “The Rabbi” Kushnir showed up to his debate on Tuesday, due to the noted absences of both Yian Messoloras and incumbent Sarah Naiman.

    While it is disappointing that neither showed up, it is indicative of the fact that the All Candidates Debate was scheduled so late (with only 1/2 day left of online voting) that Candidates were somewhat rationale in determining that the debate would have no effect on the outcome of their race. The only thing to lose out would be the process of democracy.

    Also noteworthy, was the absence of any crowd, especially compared to the first debates, which, from my recollection is usually the other way around, but given the late scheduling of the All Candidates Debate due to such a short campaign period, it is not surprising that most people made a similar choice to the candidates and didn’t show up.

  7. Mike Thicke on January 24, 2008 2:59 am

    I know last year it was very difficult to get the EA position filled, and we were lucky to have Chris who was exceptional. I don’t know how the hiring process went this year, but the AMS should probably examine different ways of filling that position.

  8. Fire Hydrant on January 24, 2008 3:31 am

    Election results become official when read at Council. Council has the power to ask that parts of the election results not be read if there’s a dispute, but Code gives them no other power — that’s vested in the Elections Committee.

    Council could, in principle, fire the Committee and/or Administrator, or suspend Code to change the rules, but the precedent of Council meddling in its elections would be nothing short of catastrophic, and grounds for impeachment. Particularly when a number of Councillors are running for office.

    That said, my reading of Code mirrors Tim’s — any appeal of the cancellation would almost certainly be sustained. Even if only as a precaution against having the cancellation overturned, I’d include the VP Admin race, possibly on a separate piece of paper, and simply not count the paper ballots until the appeals are finished. I’d comment on how responsible it would be to do otherwise, but as I’m a candidate and a Councillor, it probably wouldn’t be appropriate. Ballots can be ignored, but non-ballots can’t be counted.

    Finally, as a Fire Hydrant with experience in two elections that were nearly overturned, I find it annoying that this is happening in someone else’s race.

  9. Tim Louman-Gardiner on January 24, 2008 4:09 am

    Darren is right – it would be very prudent to ensure that there are VP Admin votes cast tomorrow, if not counted.

  10. Anonymous on January 24, 2008 4:55 am

    I miss Chris Anderson. He was just so professional.

  11. Andrew on January 24, 2008 6:39 am

    In response to being absent from the Monday debate, I was sick on Monday. When I woke up, I discovered I had lost my voice. This would have made it rather difficult for me to participate in the debate, and I decided rest was a sensible course of action.

    I informed the Elections Administrator that I would be absent that morning prior to the debate, and received confirmation that he had read my email. I was hoping that during the debate he would pass on my regrets at being unable to attend, but apparently he did not.

  12. Anonymous on January 24, 2008 7:15 am

    2 points:

    1) I agree that it seems that the EA is exercising extra-Codular powers that he doesn’t have, and that the VP Admin race should be on the ballot for tomorrow so that people at least have the right to vote, even if at a later date the results were to be declared invalid.

    2)it is too bad that this decision was made at such a late time, otherwise Council (by petition) could have called a special meeting and suggested the VP Admin race stay on the paper ballot. alas, all is lost.

  13. Anonymous on January 24, 2008 7:15 am

    I think it’s unfortunate that these are the issues this year, making it exceptionally hard taking the contrast effect into consideration. Chris’s exceptional conduct last year makes Brendan look really really bad.

  14. anonymous on January 24, 2008 7:40 am

    how are candidates supposed to drop the posters off at the polling booths tomorrow without violating the “stay at least 10m away from all polling stations at all times” rule?

  15. Fire Hydrant on January 24, 2008 8:17 am

    Candidates are not permitted to campaign within a 10m buffer zone around polling stations (Code Section IX.A, Article 2, paragraph 7(g)), except as allowed in Article 5, paragraph 6, which entitles candidates to one poster within 5m of each polling station (but not on the ballot box). Code is self-consistent in this regard.

    It would be ridiculous (and expensive) for Council to call a special meeting to discuss “um, could you maybe rethink that a little if you get a chance”. If Council actually passed a motion calling on the EA to do something, demanding it, making it happen, or changing the composition of the Elections Committee, that would be meddling in otherwise independently-run elections, which is an extremely bad idea.

  16. tariq on January 24, 2008 8:47 am

    c’mon hydrant, meddling in otherwise independently-run elections is a bad idea?
    hasn’t it worked out well with other student societies?


  17. Anonymous on January 24, 2008 5:30 pm

    Anon 11:15 –

    Chris Anderson wasn’t the only good EA the AMS has had in recent years. Ian McKechnie was excellent, Anthony Waldron was competent but quite excellent when it came to issues like this, and so on and so on. I believe the last problem that the AMS had with an EA was Sunny Chandan in 2004 when he was dismissed a few days into the election.

    The AMS has excelled at its elections before. The problem is one about hiring and being able to attract people to the job. That’s when you get incompetents.

  18. Fire Hydrant on January 24, 2008 6:46 pm

    Sunny was not dismissed, he was never hired.

  19. Anonymous on January 24, 2008 9:06 pm

    Sigh. Damn hippies.

  20. Quinn on January 24, 2008 11:30 pm

    i put money on that last comment being Chris Eaton… who was a pretty great EA, save for one incident

  21. Anonymous on January 25, 2008 2:47 am

    when will we know whose won…
    come on ubc insiders. let the public know

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet