URSU elections under scrutiny
author: john loeppky | editor-in-chief
under the microscope / Jeremy davis
Large-scale investigation into results underway
The University of Regina Students’ Union election results have been released, but are under a crowd of scrutiny after accusations of rule breaking. The Mar. 20 release of the results highlighted this next step in the election process.
“Due to the significant volume of reports of voter fraud and the severity of allegations made against several candidates during the campaign and voting periods for violations of the URSU Election and Referendum Bylaw, ratification of these unofficial results by the current URSU Board of Directors is pending the completion of investigations by the URSU Elections Committee. It is only after the completion of the Committee’s investigations that the current URSU Board of Directors can consider ratification of any results.“
The unofficial results have Victor Oriola as president, Harmeet Singh as VP student affairs, Muhammad Usman Khan as VP operations and finance, and Harman Deol as VP external relations.
Unofficial winners of the other positions include: Amandeep Kaur (women’s director), Jacq Brasseur (equity and campaigns), Katlyn Richardson (students with disabilities), Yadwinder Singh Deal (international students), Alfred Adenuga (arts), Tanaya Sharma (engineering), Jashneet Kaur (science), Akshyat (graduate students). The following were acclaimed, meaning they had not challenger: Amit Kumar Bansal (business), Rylan Jensen (education), Barzany Ridha (kinesiology), Manjot Singh (MAP), Mark Matthies (nursing), Zoey Yanush (Luther), Jagmandeep Tejay (part-time students), Timothy Merasty (FNUC), Davinder Singh (CCE).
According to URSU Chief Returning Officer Shafeeka Sayidd, every executive position is affected by the investigations being undertaken by the three-member elections committee.
“It is but that doesn’t mean that the winning candidates are the ones affected.”
Sayidd said that the process is going to be a long one.
“[The] Process is huge. Lots of investigations and interviews. Election committee is meeting tomorrow [Mar. 22] to analyze ALL the evidence received including ones received today – timeline is basically as soon as possible so successful candidates can transition into their role.”
In a later message, the CRO voiced her concern about keeping the process as protected as possible.
“… Until we reach an agreement for penalty or confirm any allegations I don’t want to disclose any details on complaints made.”
“I can only confirm that some of the complaints made are severe in nature and the penalties will reflect that.”
Sayidd did confirm that points had been deducted from those who did not make prior arrangements and did not appear at the all-candidates forum.
“ Individuals have been demerited points and penalized for minor infractions such as not showing up to the all candidates forum.“
“ I don’t think we need to publicly shame the people that didn’t show up, I have penalized them already and that 5 points will be added to any additional demerit points they may receive and potentially have a harsher penalty. So rest assured people are being held accountable for their non-accountability.“
This marks the fourth-straight URSU election, which was affected by accusations of significant wrongdoing by candidates. This follows the disqualifications of Sukhdeep Brar, Rishabh Dutta, and Maria Aman in previous years.
The Carillon has obtained a series of emails sent by the CRO to the candidates.
On Mar. 4 came a warning about slate behaviour.
“It has been brought to my attention that intention to partake in potential SLATE behaviour has been voiced by a candidate to ensure that none of the candidate [SIC] whether intentionally or unintentionally are breaking this rules [SIC] PLEASE adhere to the following rules.”
The email then goes on to detail the rule according to the elections by-law, including the use of only candidates’ legal names, the need to have “distinct platforms,” and a rule barring candidates from using the same website. We have confirmed that the legal name convention has been adapted for those who do not use their legal name in everyday life.
On Mar. 6 an email was sent warning candidates about the violations of the poster policy policy.
“It has come to my attention that a few candidates are not adhering to the poster policy at the University of Regina, I am going to assume that this is due to ignorance and was not done intentionally.”
Mar. 7 saw an email to candidates entitled “Harassment and Violations – Reminder.”
“It is unfortunate that I have to even send out this email but this is a reminder that physical altercations, nonverbal threats, and general intimidation from election candidates is STRICTLY prohibited, any ember that is found to be in violation of this rule will be subjected to immediate disqualification or the highest level of penalty. There is an absolute no tolerance policy for this kind of behaviour and I will do everything in my power to make sure the guilty parties are held accountable for their actions. “
Mar. 7 also had an email from the CRO to the candidates informing them of a shift in tabling policy.
“The only individuals that can be at the table requested are the candidate themselves and their campaign manager as identified on the nomination package.”
“Please note that tabling is a privilege, please ensure you are adhering to this change, if you are found to be in violation of this, you will be penalized accordingly.“
The email also added to the previous email regarding threatening behaviour.
“I also did not note in my last email but would like to emphasize that if you are aware of individuals acting inappropriately on your behalf, it is your responsibility to ask them to stop and let them know right away. Failure to do so will result in you being held accountable for not actively preventing the behaviour.“
A Mar. email communicated the sanctions levied for those who did not attend the all-candidates forum, five demerit points and the loss of tabling privileges.
An email on Mar. 15 gave a specific example of a violation of the provisions against harassment as detailed previously.
“There are concerns that certain candidates and/or their friends ‘are being followed’ by supporters of other candidates. This can be very intimidating and you are not actively trying to prevent such actions by friends, you will be held accountable for it and penalized accordingly.”
Mar. 15 also saw an email be sent to candidates called “Voting Concerns & Controls.”
“Due to concerns and rumours circulating in regards to individuals planning to commit voting violation of URselfservice, we have implemented a new voter fraud prevention technology on URselfservice during the voting period this year. So if you or your supporters have planned to manipulate or corrupt the system, rest assured we have controls in place that will detect any suspicious activity.”
Victor Oriola, in a message, said that he had reported some activities to campus security.
“Well, I was followed extensively for the duration of the election cycle. I knew some people were surreptitiously recording me and I happen to have seen a video of me speaking to a few friends in the library. The people who made this recording seem to believe that I was committing an electoral violation by campaigning in the library. However, this was not the case and I am yet to hear anything from the CRO concerning this or any other matter.”
Oriola said he had reported this activity to Campus Security, something that a Campus Security staff member could not confirm when asked due to the nature of the matter. The CRO also declined to confirm.