By James Keller
Over two months after polls closed, the Students’ Union Chief Returning Officer finally delivered his final report to the SU, assessing the 2004 General Election.
CRO Shuvaloy Majumdar ap-peared at the Tue., Apr. 13 meeting of the Students’ Legislative Council. Majumdar previously reported to council Sun, Mar. 14, but the delivery of his final report was delayed due to failed-presidential candidate Phil Barski’s petitioning to overturn the election. His initial report touched mainly on logistical concerns due to a pending appeal. In the eight weeks since voting ended, the SU Review Board overturned the election, and then the Tribunal, the union’s highest judicial body, reinstated it.
Before facing a series of questions, Majumdar made a brief statement, assessing the election process which he praised as overwhelmingly successful but shied away from commenting on the technical difficulties experienced with the online voting system.
"The fires of democracy burn strongly this evening," he said at the beginning of his speech, referencing to a metaphor he has used before.
He praised the large number of candidates and the high voter turnout, while offering some advice for future elections.
In his preamble, Majumdar spoke of the need to address the potential growth of slates, which made their first appearance in nine years. He said the possibility exists for students to organize in a club, for example, and remain active throughout the school year. This would violate current bylaws concerning pre-campaigning.
"We are seeing the emergence of new politics," said Majumdar. "It’s certainly a partisan form of politics. What I’m trying to allude to is an ongoing political group on campus. Under that circumstance, what does pre-campaigning mean?"
Because of this possibility, he said, council needs to decide what the limits of pre-campaigning bylaws should be. Any active campaigning prior to the all-candidates meeting is currently prohibited.
"Right now it’s pre-campaigning," Majumdar said after the meeting. And right now council needs to decide if it should be."
His report also expressed concern over the definition of the CRO’s position. He wants the position clarified, as the role has grown far beyond simply acting as a rubber stamp for SLC, according to Majumdar.
Although Majumdar’s report refrained from addressing the online voting difficulties, they came up in discussion.
At one point, Events Comm- issioner Alex Vyskocil questioned his role in creating the ballot. Majumdar said he was glad to be able to offer his side. Sorex Software, who designed the online voting software used by the SU, blamed much of the downtime in the early days of the election on an unusually large ballot, which the CRO created the night before voting began.
"I was under the impression that the ballot was to be created by [SU] staff," recalled Majumdar, who found out the day before the election that no ballot had been made. "My solution was to learn HTML overnight. Under no circumstance was it explained to me that the ballot could cause software glitches."
When asked if he sought help from staff that day, Majumdar said he was "stonewalled" by SU staff.
When asked by Faculty of Com- munication and Culture representative Laura Schulz whether the election was successful or not, Majumdar gave a two-part answer. He said that, in most respects, the election was indeed a successes. As far as technical problems were concerned, he yielded to the SU’s judicial boards.
"I stand by the Review Board and the Tribunal decisions, both of them," he answered. "I’m not in a position to make judicial decisions. That’s not my role."