The St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU) is holding a re-run of its Fall By-Election after first-year General Councillor candidate Mikayla Teofilo was accidentally left off the online ballot.
In a joint statement to The Varsity, SMCSU President Zachary Nixon and Vice-President Jessica Afonso commented on the error. Nixon described the omission as “an honest mistake in entering information into the U-Elect system.”
Nixon and Afonso also explained that they were only made aware that Teofilo was missing from the online ballot on October 21, the final day of the Fall By-Election period.
Zakk Dodge, the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) of the election described the mistake as a “series of unfortunate situations and circumstances on my behalf.” He continued, “I made a very human mistake of becoming overwhelmed with my midterms, the circumstances of my work, and my time handling a new member in my life (a wonderful puppy).”
On deciding how to rectify the unprecedented error, Afonso said that she and Nixon “had no doubt that the election had to be re-run, but we were unsure how to do so with time constraints.”
She went on to say that “unfortunately two candidates withdrew from the race,” as running the election a second time had been stressful for sthem.
In a public statement posted on the SMCSU Facebook page on October 23, the union asked St. Michael’s College students to re-cast their by-election votes, assuring students that it “holds democratic principles in the highest regard” and that “mistakes like this will never be made again.”
In addition to the public statement on Facebook and the organization of a second by-election, a formal performance review of the CRO presiding over the by-election was held to “decide on ramifications accordingly.”
Following the formal performance review of Dodge, the Executive Committee hired Peter De Sanctis as the interim CRO for the rest of the election.
When asked to respond to the Executive Committee’s decision, Dodge told The Varsity, “I send my deep regards to all of the people involved and understand the decision behind that.”
Afonso explained that De Sanctis’ “working knowledge of our electoral process gave him an edge” and that the position would become vacant again once the election ends.
The second run of SMCSU’s Fall By-Election for five new General Councillors is currently underway, with a Candidate’s Forum already held on October 26 and a shortened voting period taking place from October 31 to November 2.