Victoria College students are to cast votes for student council execs a second time, although post-campaigning in the first round of elections did not conclusively change the outcome. An unnamed candidate, who did not win, was found to have campaigned during the voting period by carrying around a laptop and having students cast votes online. Two students are criticizing that decision in a report, saying that the Victoria University Student Administrative Council ignored and wrongly interpreted its constitution, and that council members voted on issues that were a conflict of interest.
The elections for president of VUSAC saw current VP external Akash Goel edge out clubs commissioner Evan Wallis. Voting took place March 18 and 19.
Chief returning officer Catherine Brown presented evidence of vote tampering at a March 24 VUSAC meeting. Brown is the current VUSAC president. Goel and Wallis have no conclusive connection to the tampering.
Brown said that up to 40 votes may have been “strongly influenced,” although only 17 were conclusively linked to the candidate in question. The ballots were cast online and tampering was determined through investigating IP addresses.
“Even if you nullified those 17 votes, there still would have been a big enough margin,” Goel told Victoria College paper The Strand. Goel was ahead of Wallis by 28 votes.
Brown recommended that the council ratify the election results. Following a secret ballot, the motion failed to receive a simple majority. Council members who won the first round of elections were not allowed to cast votes for the ratification motion, though Wallis, the unsuccessful presidential candidate, was allowed to vote. “I think a lot of people are questioning why a recasting of ballots is being done. I think that’s because there were enough members on council who wanted to make sure that students felt that the process was as transparent as it could have been,” Brown told The Strand.
In the report “VUSAC: A Crisis of Legitimacy,” Dev Shanani and Nicholas Erwin-Longstaff said that VUSAC overstepped its constitutional authority in challenging election results. They wrote, “Given the expected thoroughness of this investigation, and the fact that the candidate involved In this ‘tampering’ lost, it is surprising to see the results on an unrelated position that won by a margin greater than 17 votes being recalled.”
Voting will take place March 31 and April 1, through the utoronto.ca voting system.