The Students’ Union’s judicial board overturned the disqualification of an executive candidate Wednesday and ordered the Chief Returning Officer to promptly release election results.
In a divided ruling, the Discipline, Interpretation and Enforcement (DIE) Board reinstated Samer Sleiman in the Vice-President (Operations and Finance) race because of insufficient evidence that he had intended to tamper a student’s vote.
“It is clear that this decision leaves much to be desired,” the three-member tribunal said in its ruling.
The board found neither Sleiman nor complainant Anna Gwozdz’s version of events “sufficiently persuasive.”
Gwozdz alleged that she provided Sleiman her CCID, password and student identification number after Sleiman offered to show her how to vote. The next day, she discovered a vote had been cast under her name.
The CRO’s investigation found that Gwozdz’s vote had been cast for Sleiman, although she had intended to vote for opposing candidate Cody Bondarchuk.
The board said Gwozdz’s testimony seemed honest, but found discrepancies that made her account not viable.
“It is very likely that something was lost in conversation between the two individuals that was critical to understanding the Appellant’s intent,” the board said.
The board shot down a suggestion by Sleiman’s defense council that Gwozdz may have had ties with opposite candidate Cody Bondarchuk, who would stand to benefit from Sleiman’s ouster.
Associate chief tribune Harvir Mann disagreed with the ruling and said election bylaws on vote tampering do not require intent for disqualification.
Mann argued that Gwozdz’s false vote for Sleiman was enough to determine that her ballot had been tampered with.
“I would have decided to uphold the decision of the CRO … and disqualify the Appellant from the election race,” Mann said in the ruling.
But the board cautioned that “honest mistakes” in communication may occur between candidates and voters.
“It is not appropriate to potentially disqualify a candidate and set aside, hundreds, if not thousands, of voters’ intentions on this basis alone.”
The board recommended Bylaw Committee and Students’ Council clarify vote tampering in its election bylaws and determine whether the violation must show intent for disqualification to be considered.
More details to come.