Elections / News

UBCO Board of Governors and Senate Election Declared Void, Re-vote Expected

May 5th, 2016

The University of British Columbia Okanagan has announced that there will be a re-vote for the student Senate and student Board of Governors at the earliest convenience.

The election will be re-run using the University’s Webvote System for the positions of Senate and Board of Governors.

The election is planned to take place between May 11 and May 17; however, candidates had 48 hours after Tuesday afternoon to appeal.  If any appeal, then the election will be put on hold until further notice.

Christopher Eaton, UBCO’s Associate Registrar for Academic Governance & Director, gave a statement to The Phoenix showing his support for the decision.

“The Registrar’s Office regrets the inconvenience caused to the candidates; however, we remain convinced that conducting new ballots for the Student Representative to the Board and Students At-large to the Senate are the correct course of action given the electoral irregularities found and our obligation to ensure the integrity and good conduct of those elections.  As a number of persons have now filed appeals to the Council Elections Committee, we will wait for those processes to be resolved before proceeding. Until a resolution is found, no one will be declared elected in ether election.”

Eaton’s report addresses Shira Sneg, who came in second in the Board of Governors election, as the main appellant to the election.

The appellant listed nine different allegations of why the election should be declared void, ranging from improper distribution of ballots, the omission of the appellant’s name from ballots, and lack of clarity in the ballot instructions.

Of the appellant’s nine allegations, two were deemed to have merit: failure to provide privacy while voting, and the distribution of ballots to students that did not present identification.  Due to these allegations, Eaton recommended “that the [Senate and Board of Governors] election[s] be declared void on the basis of individuals being permitted to vote without having their identification confirmed, and on the basis of the absence of adequate facilities to ensure the secrecy of the ballot.”

Shira Sneg supports the university’s decision for a re-vote, but sees difficulties.

“The review concluded that March’s voting process was unjust and the vote is void,” Shira told The Phoenix.  “Acknowledging it is critical to ensure the trust of the students and the University. The timing though, is a different matter. When I appealed, I hoped that the review will take a few days so that we’ll be able to have an immediate revote. I voiced my concerns when I saw the process extend. All those involved, including the university, hoped for a shorter duration of this review, but shortening it had its own cost.  A new election at this time presents too many difficulties. Currently none of the options raised is close to ideal. At this moment, there is a need to come up with a solution and decide on how to act.”

Sources indicate that many candidates, winners and losers, oppose a re-vote. Some candidates believe that the timing is inappropriate, given that many students are finished classes for the summer and will not place a re-vote as a high priority, resulting in a low turnout.  Many students that voted have also graduated and a number of students are away and may not have internet access.

Despite the fight for and against a re-vote, UBCO states that the Senate and Board of Governors elections “will be re-run by the University at its earliest convenience.”

The Phoenix approached Board of Governors Rep Terry Zhang and other elected senators, but all declined to comment.

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