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Review Board petitioner representatives (from left) Hardeep Sangha, Josh Woitas, Matthew Jenkins and petitioner Phil Barski.
Вen Li/the Gauntlet

SU Election overturned

SU will appeal decision to Tribunal, U-Pass in jeopardy

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In light of potential flaws in the online voting system, the Students' Union Review Board has declared the 2004 SU General Election invalid. The Review Board's decision calls for a new election to be held, including referendum questions and constitutional ammendments.

SU President Jayna Gilchrist said the SU would be appealing the case to the SU Tribunal. The Tribunal is the SU's highest judicial authority.

"Obviously we're tremendously concerned about the impact this decision will have on the lives of all students," said Gilchrist. "We're gathering information and creating our appeal for the Tribunal."

The Thu., Mar. 18 Review Board hearing was petitioned by failed presidential candidate Phil Barski on behalf of candidates running as part of his "Barski's Cabinet" slate. Originally calling for an external audit of the election, Barski's Cabinet member and External Commissioner-elect Matthew Jenkins, acting as counsel for the petitioner, asked the petition be amended to instead declare the election invalid. The amendment was based on an acknowledgement by Mark Wrubleski, Director of Sorex Software Inc., the company who developed the software used in the election, that there was the potential for some students to vote twice, while others may have been denied the right to vote altogether.

Bill Quigley, legal counsel for the SU, cited four provincial and territorial cases which involved contested votes to establish a precedent for who bears the burden of evidence. He argued the burden falls on the petitioner.

Quigley stressed it is the petitioner's responsibility to establish that the election was not conducted in accordance with the bylaws and that the outcome was materially affected by the infractions.

"His evidence alone doesn't get them past step one," said Quigley, referring to testimony by SU Chief Returning Officer Shuvaloy Majumdar, who said he believes the election was administered fairly.

In his summation for the petitioner, Jenkins cited SU bylaws guaranteeing members of the SU the right to vote.

"If Sorex can't guarantee these results, how can the SU guarantee these results?" he asked.

The Review Board agreed.

"Uncontested evidence was provided that members of the electorate were unable to cast a vote," wrote Review Board Chair Arlene Blake in the Review Board's decision. "No evidence was provided to confine the number of persons who may have been similarly affected by this error in the electronic voting system."

The Review Board found the error did materially affect the results of the election.

If the Tribunal hears the appeal, depending when a verdict would be rendered, it is possible a new election might not be called until September.

SU President-elect Bryan West said he was disappointed with the decision from his "biased standpoint."

"In my mind, I want my results to be legitimate," said West. "The Review Board came down with their decision and they had their reasons for it. We won it once, I hope we can win it again."

In a letter dated Feb. 12, Wrubleski initially reported to Majumdar that the "integrity of the data is intact." However, a single informal complaint from a student who reported attempting to vote and finding their ballot already filled in led Wrubleski to investigate further.

Called as the petitioners first witness in the hearing, Wrubleski testified that slowness in the system due to the larger-than-normal ballot size may have caused voter sessions to time out. He said students abandoning their ballot before waiting for a "session timed out" message could have inadvertently left the connection between the Infonet and the separate voting server open.

Voters were required to log on to the Infonet before being transferred to a separate internet site to cast their ballot.

In this scenario, continued Wrubleski, another student attempting to vote at the same computer within the 20 minute voting session limit, even using their own information to log on to the Infonet, would have cast their ballot using the first student's information. This would prevent the first student from being able to try again, and would have possibly allowed the second student to cast another ballot using their own information.

He further noted the system was designed to ensure individual voters remain anonymous and therefore it is impossible to trace the number of times this may have occurred.

"There is very little I can do to disprove it," said Wrubleski, adding he believed it was a "smaller than one per cent potentiality."

"[The Review Board's decision] definitely puts candidates, students and the organization into a bit of a twilight zone," said Laura Schultz, Vice President Academic-elect, noting issues like the U-Pass will not be resolved if the election is put off until next year. "This decision denies thousands of students who are graduating this year the right to vote. It's a bit ironic."

Inayat Jetha, Student Legal Assistance Student Director and leader of the successful campaign to maintain the SLA levy, said he is not concerned about the decision. He sees a second election as a chance to further connect with the student body.

"We feel that we can capitalize on this new found awareness in a second campaign and potentially draw from a larger base of support," said Jetha.

Barski read a prepared statement, breaking a standing silence with the Gauntlet.

"In the words of Josh Woitas: how do you make a baby cry?" he asked, referring to West. "Give him candy and then take it away."

"I've been hearing a lot of this sort of stuff," said West in response. "This Review Board decision is based around the process and not any one individual. It all comes down to the Tribunal."

Quigley submitted a categorized list of the formal complaints received during the course of the election. Of the 44 complaints, eight involved students who tried to vote and received an "ID has voted" message. Wrubleski testified 32 of the complaints were filed on Tue., Feb. 10, the first day of voting, and were related to the large ballot size. The ballot was reduced before polls opened on Wed., Feb. 11 and system slowness was largely eliminated.

Wrubleski testified the "ID has voted" complaints were most likely due to students' ID numbers being known by other individuals. Of the 36 other complaints, he said the errors were specific to problem times and there was nothing "preventing these individuals from voting at another time."

SU Returning Officer Mike Pal was called as the petitioners' second witness. He described his duties supervising Deputy Returning Officers at the polling stations across campus. Pal testified that he was unable to vote because a vote had already been registered with his ID. Two other ROs also reported being denied a vote.

"This election system requires a technical perspective I am not able to evaluate," said Majumdar, the petitioner's final witness. "I do believe the election was administered fairly."

The SU has until Mon., Mar. 29, to submit their application for appeal.

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Comments

Who is Bill Quigley? Barski could barely put two words together without sounding like an idiot so how did he lost?

Matt Jenkins presented the petition and did quite well.

I don't know what kind of support they got outside of the room, but the fact that they did present the case as students I think was commendable. It certainly created an interesting dichotomy between the two sides. The petitioner is a student that won in the election but is still presenting a case to invalidate the election. The Students' Union is "the students official voice" and has a lawyer presenting the response. As perception goes, Barski had the good side there.

Good to see good ol' Barski is still as intelligent and mature as ever. I really hope he wins any future re elections so he can give witty jokes on behalf of all students (For all you Barski supporters out there, that was sarcasm (and if baski is reading this, sarcasm means I'm joking)).
I've always noticed that the baby who never got any candy in the first place whines the most.

When will people stop calling Barski's Cabinet a bunch of dumb jocks, or keep slandering them because they play sports. They all have to keep the same GPA as everyone else with a sports schedule, if anything they are more academic than the average student. As for the guy named MacHall Lobbyist, are you retarded, Barski's Cabinet has time and time again proven to everyone that they are worthy of running the SU (c'mon, they single handedly over turned an election stacked with Poli-Sci students, and have shown the current SU and Quigley where to stick it). Nice job Barski's Cabinet.

Hey smart ass, try finding one that's below 3.5, and when you don't, kick yourself in the face for being so stupid.

So, if the Tribunal sustains the validity of the election, will the petitioners who won take office and contradict their claim that the election was invalid, or will they choose to hold offices they believe to be illegitimate?

Actually I was referring to Barski personally and based on his campaign. From the times I have talked to him he has no understanding of any issues. Also based on the only comment he sould muster up for the paper being his baby crack. I could really care less if he plays sports or not.
BTW, Barski is a Poli Sci Major.

Barski was drinking at the Den and blathering about getting counsel who are experts in both administrative and contract law.

Is Quigley back at the Tribunal? Would a lawyer match be a first in SU proceedings such as this?




Barski going on about getting a big shot lawyer?

No! You don't say.

Is it the same $3,000 lawyer him and his campaign cronies have been threatening everyone from the SU to the Gauntlet to James Keller with since immediately after the results were announced? The magical lawyer who will appear atop a mighty expensive steed and lead his far-too-wealthy-and-bitter clients to victory? Is it that lawyer?

Or is it Matt Jenkins?

I guess we'll have to wait and see...

who needs a lawyer when your dealing with Krafty and this quigley idiot...the student body should thank the SU because they hired a lawyer to save the election and upass and he got his ass handed to him...wonder if they are gonna bring him to the tribunal for another ass kicking?

"ass handed to him"? Please.

Were you there? As far as performances are concerned, the SU lawyer did a fantastic job. Barski's guy was constantly reminded where to make arguments, had to be stopped while he badgered the CRO (much to the gallery's amusement; the laughing only added to the moment), and went so far as to stand up and call "time," interrupting the SU's final arguments, which the chair shut down with a healthy dose of irritated scorn.

Jenkins performance left a lot to be desired. He was very lucky he didn't have his ass handed to him, and he should be so lucky if the case doesn't go to appeal.

"So, if the Tribunal sustains the validity of the election, will the petitioners who won take office and contradict their claim that the election was invalid, or will they choose to hold offices they believe to be illegitimate?"

That's the best question i've seen asked. Any answer on that yet?

My guess would be that those members of Barski's cabinet who were elected into positions would willingly take office even if they believe that they have been elected through illegitimate means. I say this because Barski's cabinet seems to be centred around winning and I don't ever think that they would ever give up an opportunity to hold a position in the SU.

Beliefs are one thing, reality is another.

It is the Review Board that determined, with the evidence provided and the argument presented, that the election is invalid.

If the Tribunal determines that the this is incorrect, such is the case, there is no belief. If the Tribunal accepts that members of the cabinet were indeed elected fairly, then they were elected fairly and must, not should, take office in relation to the promise they made to students to do just that.

"Beliefs are one thing, reality is another.

It is the Review Board that determined, with the evidence provided and the argument presented, that the election is invalid.

If the Tribunal determines that the this is incorrect, such is the case, there is no belief. If the Tribunal accepts that members of the cabinet were indeed elected fairly, then they were elected fairly and must, not should, take office in relation to the promise they made to students to do just that."
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People will always have their beliefs - such as Barski's cabinet. And some folks even put their beliefs ahead of what may be true (reality).

For example, Brett Pearce's case against you. Brett believed that he had a case and that it was true. So he took it to the Review Board. You believed otherwise and you defended yourself against his charges.

Everyone has beliefs and these are capable of guiding feelings which can in turn guide actions and decisions. I guess you could even go so far as to say that people's beliefs make up their own realities and sometimes these 'realities' consume such people in a way that their beliefs cease to exist. And their realities no longer have any foundation.