Students’ Union Presidential candidate William Lau has been disqualified due to third-party campaigning, after the Chinese Students and Scholars’ Association posted campaign photos and posts advocating for William Lau on a Renren page on Feb. 26 and March 6.
The Chief Returning Officer’s ruling declared the Renren page a “private site equivalent to a mailing list,” and therefore against due process of the rules outlined in the elections nomination package. The ruling also states Lau did not appropriately “distance and disavow” himself from the third-party campaigning by contacting the CRO about the matter.
Lau was fined $403.70 for the third-party campaigning, therefore exceeding his campaign budget by $200.32 and effectively disqualifying him.
Lau submitted an appeal March 11 which will be heard before the Discipline, Interpretation and Enforcement Board on a date to be determined. The appeal argues that the Renren post is a social media post, similar to Facebook, rather than a mass emailing.
Lau said he found it interesting how the posts were declared third-party campaigning, when candidates’ platforms and websites have been shared via social media by students and student groups throughout the campaigning period, without issue.
“I was really confused why this was flagged and not everything else was flagged,” he said. “I don’t see this as campaigning. I see this as someone endorsing me, sharing a post that was approved.”
He added that he’s somewhat confident he’ll win the appeal, but he’s frustrated that no action was taken until elections results were announced, despite the CRO being aware of the issue beforehand.
“It is really disheartening,” he said. “That’s an area I wish was communicated a little more.
“If rules were broken, then that’s the process. That’s the system.”
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