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Academic Commissioners Dattani and Amery at council.
Ryan May/the Gauntlet

Election Fraud?

SU Chief Returning Officer condemns election process

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Newly elected Academic Commissioners Kassim Amery and Birju Dattani's campaigns violated six election bylaws during the Students' Union by-election according to an SU vice-president.

Phrases like "campaigns hijacked democracy," "poor moral character," and "bylaws were violated with impunity" described two unidentified candidates' campaigns in the SU Chief Returning Officer's by-election report to the Students' Legislative Council Tue., Nov. 18.

SU Vice-President Operations and Finance Gavin Preston confirmed the two campaigns alluded to in the SU CRO's report were Amery and Dattani's.

Preston was handing out election awareness flyers in the MacEwan Student Centre food court Thu., Oct 23. When he approached students, he asked if they had voted in the election yet. A female student indicated she did vote and pointed to two males with a laptop at an adjacent table.

"Birju Dattani was nearby," said Preston. "I had seen what [SU CRO] Shuvaloy [Majumdar] was talking about. A former SU presidential candidate, Mohamed El-Rafih, was there."

Preston conversed with Majumdar and they both returned to the food court to speak further with the female student.

"The girl put her ID number in [to the InfoNet] and they, Moe and Birju, put in the vote," said Preston. "It was obvious what was going on. I could see Birju and [Kassim] Amery walking around with a laptop.

"I witnessed it myself, specifically, the two candidates."

These events were touched on in Majumdar's report to SLC. Majumdar briefly commented the Oct. 23-25 by-election was as busy as the general election but spoke mainly on the campaigns of Dattani and Amery, whom he did not mention by name.

"When democratic principles are violated--and they were by specific campaigns in the 2003 by-election-- I hunger to take action rather than hide in the dredges of bureaucracy and rules," said Majumdar, reading from his report.

Majumdar reported the two campaigns "widely and without hesitation compromised these bylaws." Six bylaws were broken according to the report, including "no person shall prevent or attempt to prevent electors from exercising their right to vote" (66 (1) (C)) and "while an elector is in a voting compartment, no other person except someone assisting an incapacitated elector, may enter the voting compartment or be in a position to see how the elector marks the ballot" (54 (2)).

Campus members informed the CRO of these infractions.

"Members of a minority community on campus have been in my office, sharing the details of these activities with me, but insisted that I do not maintain a paper record of those conversations," said Majumdar. "They insisted that they not be placed in a position where specific members of their communities would ostracize them."

At the center of the controversy is Dattani and Amery's use of a laptop computer with a wireless network card in MSC during the election, which Preston witnessed. Under election expenses, Dattani will be reimbursed for the $50 wireless Internet card.

"[Voters] were not unduly influenced," said Dattani. "There was direction if they needed to use a laptop, at their own leisure. We were not around to compromise privacy."

Amery understands Majumdar's role as CRO but was concerned about the report's comments.

"To comment directly to the campaign is a little harsh," said Amery, adding he was also concerned the report identified an ex-presidential candidate as part of the campaign team. "We have no control over who does what."

Dattani and Amery looked at the bylaws and did not see anything against their strategy.

"If the law does not exist, does it make the tactic illegal?" questioned Dattani. "You get into ethical and moral issues. I hope people have enough moral fabric about them."

However, Majumdar feels differently about the matter.

"These campaigns demonstrated poor moral character and made the wrong moral choices," said Majumdar at the meeting. "And they got away with it. If you feel robbed, then you know how I have felt since the day the results of the vote were announced. What's worse is that no justice will be seen by the candidates who lost unfairly."

Majumdar did not want to bring this to the review board as the CRO. In his speech, Majumdar said he had little hard evidence to bring to an election review board and he could not break his trust with the witnesses nor could he prepare another SU member or candidate to present a complicated case.

"Because it would go against bylaw definition," explained Majumdar after his presentation. "It would change from an administrative role to judicial role. I would have broken the spirit of the bylaw."

Student representatives had mixed reactions to the report.

"I found it very thorough," said SU VP Academic Demetrios Nicolaides. "There is a judicial system in place to address concerns. The judicial system operates on the assumption of not guilty. I felt it was jumping the gun."

Academic Commissioner Beth Counsell said any assumptions were unsubstantiated without hard evidence and Operations and Finance Commissioner Lisa Willott warned council not to alienate Dattani and Amery over this matter.

"I found it a bit surprising," said Operations and Finance Commissioner Jarrod Fuhr. "It's very frustrating. The letter of the bylaws was not violated, but the principles have been. I'm looking very much forward to examining [the proposed election bylaws] in excruciating detail, to prevent, in future, these practices to continue."

Majumdar, working with Preston, presented revamped election bylaws for consideration at the next SLC meeting Tue., Nov. 25.

"This by-election is a signal of trends to come," said Majumdar. "Special interest campaigns comprise pools of highly-motivated supporters. They comprise largely single-issue candidates and platforms. They comprise an uncompromising agenda.

"Concordia [University] and some other campuses have seen the costs of negligence and lethargy in the face of vast challenges. I ask you to not forsake your responsibility at the table and in these chambers to serve and represent students."

Nicolaides has not heard if any judicial process has been started against the two.

"If there's a case, we'll look into it and see if it violated anything," said Nicolaides.

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Comments

They aren't my elected officials not because I didn't vote for them, but because I can't trust them not to conceal any more discoveries they make until they have taken full advantage of them.

It's all heresay. If they were guilty of anything, why was nothing brought to the SU's Review Board?

I just found out about this. How can anyone get justice if they don't even know an injustice has occured? That nothing has happened yet is no excuse for not taking action against them now. But how? Will the Gauntlet take action?

Did you read the story? Intimidation and threats of violence suck, but that is exactly what has and would happen to the witnesses if they took formal action.


This is ridiculous. These two individuals get away with this while the other 10 academic commissioner candidates had to campaign within the rules and these two cheated. What's more alarming is that these two think and feel as though they have done nothing wrong. the student population has yet to hear a formal apology of their bylaw infractions.

I'm left to wonder why the CRO reimbursed the candidate if the CRO had a genuine concern with the use of the wireless network...To me, it sounds like its the CRO's fault for not enforcing proper election rules.

THROW THEM OUT!
These two people think they acted according to law.
They commiteed fraud.
Witnesses feel intimidated.
How dare they stay in office and think they may represent students??
they represent ruthless individuals who think everythink is allowed for success.
they should even thrown out of the uni.
Do you think they also cheat their way around in exams??
I BET!

look at the smug faces.
these two guys think they hit the jackpot.
don't let them get away with this.
these two DID know that what they were doing was fraud.
don't let people like amary and dattani ruin our democratic system.
don't let it happen!!

their position in the SU is illegitimate, and they need to step down for the good of all students. the other candidates were cheated, and for the rest of the year i hope the cheaters are given a hard time. they don't deserve their seats.

I think you are all most conveniently forgetting that there is no actual evidence against these two and without that we cannot know for sure whether or not these acts were committed. We are accusing two people of something that we cannot rightfully say is true because we do not have any proof and due process cannot be carried out. I would also like to point out that the CRO and other individuals privy to these 'bylaw infractions' should have pursued the proper judicial body if they felt that students were cheated during the election and that democracy was hijacked. Tossing accusatory statements and attacks on one's character around in a public forum with no proof to back them up is commonly viewed as bad practice and recognized by the law as libel. Students will be the ones who are ultimately let down as there will be no due process, this issue will not be addressed thoroughly by a judicial body and the end result will be that tempers and emotions flare with no real outcome to anyone, most importantly, students. There will surely be more accusatory statements tossed around in a public forum and the utter waste of students' time addressing this topic improperly will ensue. The only action that I currently know of being taken is the replacement of the current election bylaws. This course of action does nothing to address the current issue surrounding the by-election, instead it deals with future elections. Again we are not seeing due process being carried out.

I think you are all most conveniently forgetting that there is no actual evidence against these two and without that we cannot know for sure whether or not these acts were committed.

Except that they admitted that they did it, and that they read through the bylaws before hand to make sure it wouldn't be against anything.

It was calculated and planned, there is no debate about that, not even from the candidates themselves.

geez, i wonder who the anonymous coward is? could it be one of the culprits?

"Tossing accusatory statements and attacks on one's character around in a public forum with no proof to back them up is commonly viewed as bad practice and recognized by the law as libel."

-Anonymous Coward

Ha! Libel and free speech are much different my friend. Should we not be able to question anyone then?

As for not having any proof, how about claiming the wireless card under election expenes? Does that itself not imply the wireless card was used in the campaign? What about all the students who pointed out this travesty to the CRO and are too afraid to speak out - are you calling them all liars? And what about the CRO and his assistants who ACTUALLY WITNESSED IT HAPPEN - Are they lairs too? Maybe they are just out to deface honest peoples characters...unlikely

People saw it happen and have spoken up, should we ignore them because you have your head shoved up your ass and don't see it?

I think the person who needs to address this the most is the SU President. The credibility of the SU is up for grabs when the legitimacy of its members is called into question. Pressure must come from the top for the resignation.

Send an email the SU Prez: studun@ucalgary.ca

Even if they don't step down, I'm sure that this event will follow them both around for a while.

People rarely forget by whom they have been cheated, and students will remember this for a while.

Let them enjoy their time in the Students Union, because I'm certain that it won't be renewed.

We will be the ones with a dumb smile on our faces should they decide to run in another SU election.

The way our current election bylaws are set up, the CRO does not really have the power or place to take things to the Review Board. As it turned out, then, the only person that could have brought anything was prevented to by bylaw interpretations. You can start to understand why, instead of lengthy and likely unsuccessful Review Board applications, I asked the CRO to work with me to review the bylaw and present a brand new set to SLC within the next few weeks.

It is nice to solve future problems, but what about this problem?

The letter of the law also allows each of us to accidentially call these "elected" individuals at 3 a.m., though the spirit of the law says otherwise. It would be a shame if we were only bound by the lesser restriction.

How dare you slander our muslim brother in this manner? You should be ashamed to participate in the conspiracy against our people and you will suffer the consequences from our community if you do not correct your error.

We're watching.

Abdul. Is that a threat? Please don't bring religion into this. Whether they commited fraud or not is a legitimate question, regardless of ethnicity or relgion. Back off the rhetoric.

I can see where this religion thing is going - and I can bet that it wasn't a muslim that even wrote that. Trying to bring religion into this is going to further complicate the matters, so shut the fuck up and stop accusing everyone here of being discriminatory.

A cheater is a cheater, regardless of his religion. Of course, I'm sure "Abdul" isn't muslim at all, but some moron who has nothing better to do on a Friday night than stir up shit. This has nothing to do with religion, but Islam hates cheaters as much as any other religion.

Student: You question Abdul's religious beliefs, and his identity, yet you lack the strength to identify yourself? What is it you wish to conceal?

Aren't these paid positions? If so this infuriates me even more. Even if there is a loophole that allows them to stay in this position, it will show what weasle's they truly are if they don't resign. This will follow you 2 for a long time, resign now, make no excuses for your actions, fully apologize for being wrong and maybe you will save some face.

What makes you think that God will act against his innocent children? You, the accusers, will feel his wrath.

I think 'Kara' and 'Abdul' are the same person. Losers trying to stir up shit. God's wrath? Suffer the consequences? Give me a break. Get a life.

religious threats = not helping your cause.

And yes they are paid positions - $400/month.

If the students elected these two individuals for their merits, they should have no trouble securing their posts once again in a fair byelection to be held post-haste. If, however, these two achieved their positions through only their own or others' trickery, reelection would be doubtful.

show up every week to the council meetings (tuesdays at 6.30) and use questions periods (there's 2 times) to ask them if they're frauds, why they cheated, will they step down, etc. It's your democratic right, so do it. Make it so every week has so much pressure on them they do the right thing and resign. If you won't do that, stop bitching about the cheaters.

This is my first time visiting this website and all I have to say is that you're all a bunch of fucking losers. Who really cares about all this garbage. You make it seem like these guys took over the world or something. It's a goddamn SU election. Most of you geeks probably didn't vote anyway. Talk about melo-dramatic. Democracy was hijacked..pfff...give me a fuc**** break. I think these guys are a hell of a lot cooler than you. Get a fucking life or something

First of all I would like to congratulate Mr. Dattani and Mr. Amery on their win in the recent election for the position of the Studentsí Union Academic Commissioner. Your vibrant personalities and immense intellect has proven to be a leading factor in your campaign.

Saying that, this is to those of you who wish to disagree or be upset over their innovative tactics. You have every right to disagree with what Mr. Amery and Mr. Dattani did. Frankly, if you believe that their ploy, which involved using such technology such as laptops and wireless internet cards, are ìunethicalî and ìimmoralî, I believe that you should check yourselves. If youíre not using your head in this game, thenÖ quit! I donít want to hear about people whining about this issue at hand because they never thought of it before.

Another issue which I would like to discuss is the apparent ìinfluenceî on people voting at the mobile voting stations. Now, its not like someone was standing there at the station and was threatening the voter(s). If this was the case, Iím sure you would have complaints to the police and not to the pathetic Studentsí Union. Iím sure though it may have seemed this way to most people since the group of supporters which was behind the laptops looked intimidating, whether it be because they were ëcolouredí or for any other god forsaken reason.

One last thing I am going to comment on is the comments which have been posted prior to this one. If any one would like to make this a racial issue, I would love to talk to them in person. My associates and me are welcome to opposition, but will not put up with discrimination against any one because of their color, religion, culture, or beliefs. I am afraid that this might turn into something nasty, and I would like to resolve this issue before it gets out of hand.

Regards,

Franky

PS: You can contact me at thugz4hire@alexandria.cc.

you should learn to spell before you(congraulate)? anyone.

ya, good job at congraulate(ing) yourselves, that makes two people who think you two are the greatest political thinkers of our time! (Maybe next time you want to post a message, you should type it into word first and use spell check - your self praise is riddled with spelling errors.)

PS - Thank you for gracing us with your presence in our student government.

In this country (culture) we generally don't solve problems by threatening or throwing rocks at people with opposing views.

Grow up BILLY BOB FUCK

Amery and Dattani should be thrown out of office. if they think they will run in another su election, they'd better think again. This is another example of how useless the Su is. They can't even follow their own bylaws!

There can be only TWO solutions to this issue.
First, if Amery and Dattani have any moral principles and understand the working of a democratic system, they should back out from their posts.
Second, as this is unlikely as their reaction has shown, SU has to take steps to remove them from office.
This IS fraud and does not belong into a democratic system. If Amery and Dattani think different, maybe they should try again in Zimbabwe. There such tactics are allowed.

And I quote "Yeah, they [voters] could have been influenced, it's possible," said Dattani of some candidates' innovative use of portable, private polling stations. "You say it like it's a bad thing."

Next time you plan to deny somethng, try not to admit it to the newspaper first.

People, please post with some decorum or you will be prevented from posting, like our racist friends from the weekend. You are free to make yourselves look completely stupid short of exposing us to libel, but don't abuse the privilege.

No further warnings will be given.

-Ben

(Also, if you're going to post consecutive messages two minutes apart using different fake names, at least have the creativity change your fake e-mail address...)

Franky>
if you believe that their ploy, which involved using such technology such as laptops and wireless internet cards, are ìunethicalî and ìimmoralî, I believe that you should check yourselves

Not the card, but who used it and how they used it.

Now, its not like someone was standing there at the station and was threatening the voter(s). If this was the case, Iím sure you would have complaints to the police and not to the pathetic Studentsí Union

Just because you are not aware of the ongoing investigation doesn't mean it isnt happening.

the group of supporters which was behind the laptops looked intimidating, whether it be because they were ëcolouredí or for any other god forsaken reason.

Perhaps it's because THEY WERE WATCHING THEM VOTE.

I am afraid that this might turn into something nasty, and I would like to resolve this issue before it gets out of hand.

Speaking of reporting thinly-veiled threats to police... When were you and your associates given authority to "resolve this issue"?

Get a clue and a life.

It's clear that the twosome engaged in unfair practices that gave them an edge. That is, of course, democratically unhealthy.
But I simply don't understand this outpouring of hate towards the two. People are acting like it's some sort of coup or barbarian invasion.
Some posters even compared their practices to the regime in Zimbabwe! I'm sure if the two bludgeoned or knifed opposing candidates they would be in jail NOT the SU council.
Perhaps the more fitting question is about Mr. Majumdar's "special interests" and what his agenda is in trying to provoke a witchunt against the two.

It seems people are missing the whole point. You can critisize people's moral character, that's fine. You can't rely on people's moral character when it comes to elections. Political Parties are always filling up buses for membership drives to get ppl to vote for a predetermined candidate. This whole thing is a legislative failure and nothing else. Who's idea was the online election? The SU's. Who's fault is it that the bylaws weren't set up for an online election? The SU's. So why is everyone blaming these candidates or the CRO? The people who should be the target of your animosity is the SU and nobody else. Am I the only one that remembers that the only person ever successfully brought in front of the review board was Gavin Preston? I wouldn't be so quick to take his word as gospel. I wouldn't let the SU or any member of it turn anyone else into a scapegoat for their mistakes either.

Gavin was misquoted, no wrong occurred. He now claims that he's not sure if Dattani was even present when people were voting via laptops.

Plus, the use of laptops does not HURT democracy, it helps it. Giving more people the opportunity to vote IS A GOOD THING.

No one was forced, coerced or anything like that. It's really a non-issue.

There are some hatorists out there, but I don't think the SU will buckle to their pressure, they have no case whatsoever.

Sigh...

People, if you want to make potentially defamatory claims like "foo is a racist" or "foo said this," you need to substantiate them with evidence or you leave yourselves and us open to nasty litigation.

I've removed several posts for this reason.

If you wish to repost stuff without the claims for which you have no evidence, or with evidence substantiating your claims, fine. Otherwise, please don't post random defamatory junk, or your ability to post comments to this story will go away.

Also, please only post each comment once. Posting the same thing many times does not change its correctness either way (as the participants in a prior debate learned).

-Ben

Point taken Ben. "People, if you want to make potentially defamatory claims... you need to substantiate them with evidence or you leave yourselves and us open to nasty litigation". Just like your goddamn paper did. What an ironic statement. Proof? Evidence? Gee Whiz, I wonder what THOSE are...but wait. I thought it was cool to print garbage without substantiating my claims. Ahh well...Irony lost on another poor soul I guess

Personally one needs to think that since Preston and his associate have no evidence it's out of pure jealousy. I mean there both geeks who are part of computer gangs, and when they see someone like dattani who's from a main streem crowd the computer gang feels threatened.

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