Working out the bugs

By James Keller

After computer glitches and amid some controversy, the Students’ Union General Election voting period was extended by a day.

The extension accommodated an SU election bylaw stating that voting should take place Wednesday to Friday from at least 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.. When the voting system failed to start on Wed., March 13, six scheduled hours of voting were lost.

"The reason we have it from 9 to 4 is because that’s when students are most likely to be on campus," said Chief Returning Officer Jordana Hennigan. "The heart of the bylaw is that there needs to be three days for [students] to vote, so we decided to add a supplemental day."

Hennigan made the decision after an emergency meeting of the Students’ Legislative Council ended with no decision on the afternoon of Thu., March 14.

"I was left with no official direction by SLC not passing a resolution and by also not voting against it," said Hennigan. "I was told to make a decision [and] I made it based on what I thought would be best for the university population and not necessarily the SU population."

SLC met to discuss a resolution proposing an extra day of voting on Mon., March 18. However some councillors thought it was not their place to make that decision.

"Over the course of the discussion, we decided [passing the resolution] wasn’t the best course of action," explained academic commissioner Duncan Wojtaszek. "SLC probably isn’t the body to be deciding when people can vote."

Wojtaszek cited SU election bylaws which state voting days must be decided by SLC prior to Jan. 15. However, Hennigan said her decision was legitimate.

"No bylaws were broken by having a supplemental [voting] day," she explained. "They did set three election dates and the election did officially begin on Wednesday, but to ensure election fairness–by adding a supplemental day–you’re not changing the days on which voting will occur."

SU President Barb Wright said from Ottawa on Monday she stood behing leaving the decision to the CRO.

"SLC implied, by not voting, that this was the best decision," she said.

In light of the problems with the online ballots, candidates and SLC members have considered taking the results to the Election Review Board. Hennigan maintains the election was fair but can’t predict how the review board will evaluate what happened.

"It’s very hard to say what a review board would decide," she said. "The decision I made was based on the fact that we took time from students being able to vote and giving more students that opportunity has to be in the students’ best interests."

Wright echoed Hennigan’s statements, saying that any concerns should be brought directly to the board.

"If someone has questions, they should come and find out the process and take it to the review board," said Wright.

Any appeals of election results must be presented to the review board by April 1.

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