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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

Computer gangs? This is getting ridiculous...c'mon guys, get real.

I honestly don't think that is the case, but I have now come to know that Preston has had conflicts with Dattani prior to this when it came to other issues. This is like a real life soap opera on campus!

And I agree with Ben, but also agree with the fellow with the counterpoint. I can claim that an SU member has child pornography on his/her computer, claim that I have witnesses who've complained, but do not want to talk about it in public for fear of being harmed. Now, despite the fact that an investigation hasn't yet occurred, could this be printed in the Gauntlet? Judging from what happened recently, it's quite possible, isn't it?

I don't agree with the comments that claim that this is racially motivated, but I would say that they hold as much weight as Preston's Majumdar's claims. Yet we aren't going to see a front page article titled, "Racism in the SU?"...

Captain Irony>

I don't normally respond to troll posts as malformed as yours, but...

When we say foo said this, we are reciting what was said to us, and have documentation of these things being said. Where the facts are not clear, or evidence is not strong, we use words such as 'allege' or 'claim'.

On the other hand, I doubt that those claiming the CRO is a racist, or that Preston has personal issues have the evidence to back that up (or if they do, they have not presented it).

-Ben

Well...you publish a chart titled "Broken election by-laws". The word alleged or any other word stating it as such are conviently absent here. You've been grossly negligent in passing material which is factually incorrect as being correct. Keeping in mind that the CRO never mentioned any names, it was pretty stupid of you to divulge the names of the parties involved. Maybe you should have taken the time to wonder "gee...why didn't the CRO mention any names?". Well, it's because he has NO PROOF. What you guys have done essentially, is to defame two ppl who have not been proven of doing anything remotely illegal. Before you quote Preston, maybe you should have looked up some facts on him. Here's a guy who has been brought in front of the review board at least three times. The fact that you guys quote him expecting he has a leg to stand on is pretty retarded; maybe you should do a story on that guy. And you wonder why only 10% of ppl vote. It's probably because they worry about ppl like you printing bullshit and passing it off as news. As much as my heart bleeds about these "moral infractions", you guys have shown extremely "poor moral character" and have made "the wrong moral choices". If I was you, I would expect this stunt to backfire on you in the very near future. Good Luck to you when the shit hits the fan.

Captain Irony> ... and we're supposed to take what the two have to say at face value?

Read carefully: The CRO alleges that some bylaws were broken. We reprinted the text of those bylaws. The CRO does not say anyone in particular broke bylaws. Preston does. Therefore, we can say that these bylaws were the ones that the CRO says were broken. We can also say "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," because we have documentation to the effect that Gavin said that. This is near the top (third paragraph) so that readers will hopefully grasp that we base the connection between the naughty campaigns and those of the two pictured on this statement.

And I don't personally care if Gavin has been to the review board, or if only 10 per cent of the people vote (the number is not exactly 10 per cent as you claim, but that also is immaterial to your argument). Those items are petty, a poor substitute for genuine arguments, and the first has been examined by a court of competent jurisdiction. They do not have anything to do with the argument you are attempting articulate here.

I don't know if you are simply repeatedly failing to understand the train of logic presented in the story, or if you are asking very rudimentary questions for your own amusement, but please enlighten yourself before continuing to splice someone else's quotes as a substitute for an opinion of your own. (And I do apologise if there is something in your argument that has simply gone over my head.)

If you simply wish to have a debate on this for the sake of having a debate, please find someone else. On the other hand, if you wish to engage in a constructive dialogue where we each learn something, please avail yourself of the text of the bylaws, the CRO's report, and a re-reading of this article. We would be glad to discuss with (not "post/talk at") you at that point.

EOT.

Question for Ben Li. I apologize for being off topic, but I was just wondering what you are studying in school? I have always wondered this while reading your columns. Is it law, business, political science?

Deaner> Yes.

[Edit: That would be yes, political science, for the next seven months or so. Sorry for the initial crypticness (although I've been told philosophy people got a good chuckle out of my original answer).]

I do believe eveidence has been given that the CRO is a racist...he throught his high school (Churchill) had racial problems with other east indian groups. this is besied th ematter his problems caused him signifcat problems as his comments were not take in good light by a group of angry youths whose turbans he ridiculed.ALthough thi was close to 6 years ago this still shows that there si chance that these new attacks are also racially motivated.

Captain Irony:

The CRO says two candidates (he was specific in this number if not with names) broke bylaws by using wireless laptop computers to solicit votes. Two candidates, the ones implicated in this story, are very open about the fact that they did this, and that they even informed the CRO of their activities. Hell, they even defend it: "You say it like it's a bad thing."

I fail to see any real question, other than from trolls lurking on this comment board, that these two candidates a) used wireless laptops in a way that the CRO described, and b) that these two candidates are the two the CRO was talking about.

As far as I know, neither candidate is even denying this. Even when I personally asked them both in question period immediately following the CRO report, neither made anything resembling a denial. Instead, they said that they didn't think their use of wireless laptops as described by the CRO was unlawful or morally wrong.

So debate that. They did this. They admit that they did.

Was it right?

I would argue no.

Wonderful. Some idiots are already trying to play the race card. Why does race always have to be an issue? A person can be a liar regardless of their skin colour and/or religion. Stop trying to link this to race. You just look like a bunch of jackasses.

The SU is corrupt. I see nothing wrong with what our 2 new Academic Commissioners did to get elected considering that GAVIN PRESTON, VP OP FI went to any length to win his election race. The SU Review Board's verdict: "GUILTY", The SU Tribunal's verdict: "GUILTY". Gavin how dare you challenge the elected officials position. If you want them to resign, I suggest you do the same!

Shuv Majumdar was supposed to be relived from his position as CRO after his gross neglect of last year's general election. The 60th SLC Executive did not renew his contract as Shuv did not fulfill the position requirements, such as actually doing his job. Why was Shuv rehired when SU Staff and Executive all agreed that Majumdar needs to go? It's because he's one of VP External Lauren Batiuk's best friends. Lauren had Shuv fudge the facts it last year when it came to Gavin Preston's countless bylaw infractions. In turn he was rehired.

Dear stupid,

0) The two commissioners can be guilty of many things independent of anything Gavin or anyone else may or may not have done.

1) The SU tribunal does not make findings of guilt or innocence as such. Read an article, or the SU bylaws to find the terminology they use.

2) Putting quotation marks around a word that no one stated does not make that word a quote from anyone but yourself, and lends no benefit to your argument.

3) Before you accuse Batiuk of anything, understand what the situation is, and what you are saying. You look less like a fool that way.

4) Yes, your sentence structure did give you away, "Gavin's Guilty Too" and "Crooked CRO". Though I'm glad you're trying hard to overcome whatever cognitive disability it is you have.

I've "been in front of the review board at least three times". yah... ahh... you need to do a little checking up on your sources there buddy.

I told a reporter what I saw. Nothing more, nothing less. Neither I nor the CRO have ever named anyone breaking any bylaws.

I don't want anyone to resign, and I never took anyone to a review board. Show a little class.

Final Though. Birju and Amery influenced the voters during the voting process, it's morally wrong, and against the election bylaw THEY SHOULD RESIGN. Take care of yourselves folks.

Here's a better final thought. Quit bitching about morals. I'm sure you're not a fucking saint yourself, so why the hell are you complaining? These guys may have taken advantage of the rules. Let me tell you something; if you are ever required to withdraw, you're gonna want someone who knows the rules inside out and can get you off rather than some dumbass who doesn't know fuck all about the rules. And if you get off, I"m sure you're not gonna complain about admin saying "this is a travesty, this guy should be required to withdraw". These guys won. If you wanna take them to the review board, then DO IT. Otherwise shut your fucking mouth. They don't have to resign just because their "Morals" aren't as steller as yours. Fucking Idiot!

Darren-

As a law student, you are certainly good at discrediting your arguments with personal, unsubstantiated attacks.

I'm the only person to be successfully brought before the review board.? One, it is not difficult to bring one in front of the review board. But you knew that, right, seeing as you are a law student and could easily grasp our current procedures and bylaws. Two, you really need to look into our history.

Besides that, election bylaws are to blame? Exactly. Hence why I have wrote up and proposed a brand new election bylaw. No review board, no tribunal, no slander, no dragging people through long judicial processes. Rather, lets fix the problems and find a positive here.

Influencing votes is PART of democracy. Forcing votes ISN'T.

If these people said, "vote for me, please" There is nothing wrong with it. If they went further and explained their platform, again, this is part of democracy, educating the voters is PART OF THIER JOB. I'm guessing that is why Datanni said "you say it as if it's a bad thing".

On the other hand, if they forced the voters to vote one way or another, and this is possible if THEY MARKED THE BALLOTS THEMSELVES while asking for the voters username and password, I would agree with Ben Li's opinion completely. But that hasn't happened, and there wasn't even allegations that such a thing happenned.

Ben, is it possible for me to write an article on my opinion whether or not democracy has been hindered in any way with wireless technology? I think the issue is a debatable one, and it should be debated within the next few issues of the Gauntlet. I would argue that democracy has been enhanced by bringing polling stations to voters, and someone can disagree, but I'm sure that bringing up this one point would factor into people's equations of whether or not what occurred was fair to the other candidates and to democracy on campus.

To nrXic and anyone else who wants to write an opinion about this, e-mail:
opinions@gauntlet.ucalgary.ca or letters@gauntlet.ucalgary.ca to find out how your thoughts on this issue can appear in print as a column or letter.

Well Zha or should I say Lauren, I think you finally revealed your true identity with that comment. Oh and by the way Lauren, if you haven't noticed the SU staff are sick of your temper tantrums a la cheap Suzy Shier Suit ranting and raving. Do us all a favor and get off your knees, as the VP External is suppose to fight for students' rights, not give blow jobs to MLAs.

If people aren't up speed, Lauren Batiuk gave Ralph Klein a raving promotion on his great work with provincial funds.

Why no mention of this incident in this weeks Gauntlet? It was the biggest topic of debate on this website to date.

Two items relating to this were to come before the SLC this week: new election by-laws and CRO, but no decisions were made about the first item, and the CRO item fell off the agenda by virtue of the meeting ending at 1:30 a.m. I think both of these items will come back next week, but check the SU for their agenda.

Also, the focus of our reporting is not on what goes on in our web discussions (usually). There's some fun stuff being said about Kyoto at times at the end of that story ...

If anyone is interested, the two related items--CRO removal and election bylaws--will be debated in SLC on Tue., Dec. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers. As always there will be a question period.

I noticed that the topic was dropped in the recent issue of the Gauntlet, so perhaps writing about it now would be bad timing...

this post is addressed to Ben Li or any other member of the Gauntlet staff. There was a poll recently on whether or not students felt that Dattani and Amery were democratically elected. Where can I find this poll? Is there a link you can post on these forums or something? I'd like to see how the vote turned out on that one. Thanks

JUST TO ADD TO WHAT GREG "MOEISAMORON" AND NICE GUY SAID, I THINK THEY SHOULD ALL BE KICKED OUT FOR THIS DISGUSTING BEHAVIOR. THEY'RE ALL CHEATERS AND THEY ALL DESRVER TO GET KCIKED OUT. THATS THE ONLY WAY U LERAN NOT TO BE A RETARD AND CHEAT SO OBVIOUSLY. NEXT TIME DO IT RIGHT MORONS AND DONT SHAME THE ISLAMIC RELIGION WITH UR STUPIDITY

JUST TO ADDD TO THE "GUYS" SECTION I SAY KICK THE FOOLS OUT THE ARE A DISCRASE TO THE MUSLIMS CULTURE AND WELL AS THE LEBANESE RACE! I SAY OUT WITH THE LOZERS!

TO BE A DAMNED PERSON IS NOT TO OBEY BUT WHAT IS EXPECTED, HOWEVER TO PURPOSLEY DISCARSE THE GROUNDS OF THE U AND IMBARESS FELLOW POLITICAL STUDENTS WITHIN THIS EVENT IS A SHAME AND IN NO WAY SHOULD OR SHALL BE TOLERATED. THE ONLY SASTISFACTION ILL GET AS A STUDENT IT TO SEE THE ONES INCHARGE OF THIS DEGRATING INCIDENT TO BE DISOWNED AND DISPELLED FROM THE U, THANK YOU!

To 205.206.xx.218 and the person hiding behind the Shaw proxy who posted earlier this morning:

I don't particularly care that you want to post the same comment IN ALL CAPS over and over again using different names, but please don't post slanderous or abusive stuff. Several of your comments have been removed because of this. If you wish to repost those comments, please elaborate with evidence as to why you think the persons you referred to have the qualities you attribute to them.

It's funny that all students feel they have been cheated and robbed, but what I feel the real problem is that my the university students are facing jealousy of what they can't or couldn't achieve. Leave these guys alone and get back to your studies. I mean shouldn't your studies what really should be worryied about? Stop wasting your time and others.

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