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DIE Board rules 2015 executive election “tainted,” campus to re-vote VP (Academic) race

The Students’ Union judicial board ordered a re-election for the Vice-President (Academic) race Friday, in a verbal ruling that declared the executive election “tainted.”

Campaigning will kick off Monday for VP (Academic) candidates Shakiba Azimi and Fahim Rahman. Votes will be cast Thursday and Friday on the same ballots as Students’ Council and General Faculties Council (GFC) elections.

The results will be released March 20.

In a move she called “unconventional,” Azimi applied to the board for a re-vote Thursday after the Chief Returning Officer released 10 new allegations of vote tampering against Vice-President (Operations and Finance) candidate Samer Sleiman.

“I’m not doing this because I don’t think the elections were fair. I absolutely stand by the fact that I ran a clean campaign,” Azimi told the board.

“I’m here because I honestly can’t handle any hateful accusations any more.”

Azimi said she’s been “sick” of cheating accusations that largely stem from her use of Sleiman’s defence council at a Discipline, Interpretation and Enforcement (DIE) Board hearing last week.

“Quite frankly, a re-vote is unfair. I’m here to reinstate the integrity of the election that’s essentially been lost.”

Azimi said she would only pursue a re-vote if the CRO and Rahman agreed to a joint statement dissolving her of any ties with Sleiman’s campaign.

Nguyen maintained that vote tampering could have swayed the outcome of the VP (Academic) race, which Azimi won in the second round with 35 votes.

Nguyen’s investigation on Sleiman revealed 42 ballots shared a suspicious pattern, most of which she believed were tainted.

Sleiman declined to disclose the candidates he voted for in the ballots he tampered.

Nguyen said she had “no reason” to believe Azimi tampered with votes.

“Shakiba ran a clean campaign and she followed the rules in the bylaws.”

Following the ruling, Azimi acknowledged the possibility of a loss in the re-vote.

“For me now, it’s more important than ever to win,” Azimi said, noting she had intended to run as a councillor if she lost the first time.

Both candidates said they expected an “abysmal” voter turnout and neither have decided how to approach students about the awkward context framing the race.

“I think it’s really important that we get the right person to be representing over 30,000 students on campus,” said Rahman, who also lost last year’s VP (Academic) race.

“There’s a running joke in my campaign team that we should have a slogan that says, ‘Believe a little more.’”

The DIE Board budgeted $275 for each candidate and forbade the use of electronic devices when campaigning.

Neither candidates can re-use old campaign materials and must use the same social media accounts.

The DIE Board last called a re-election in 2011, after Vice-President (Student Life) candidate David McBean sent a mass email to an Orientation volunteer email list.

Opposing candidate Colten Yamagishi argued the email gave McBean an unfair advantage, an appeal that the board upheld.

Yamagishi ultimately won the re-election, garnering 50 per cent of the student vote in the first round.

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