On March 19, the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union (UTMSU) released its unofficial results for its 2021–2022 elections. Each of the five executive positions, four of which were uncontested, were filled by members of the Build Back Better (BBB) slate. Eleven directors were also elected out of 17 running.
The voter turnout for this year’s presidential election was around 7.5 per cent, a significant decrease from last year’s elections, which had a turnout of 14.7 per cent.
This year’s executive elections mirror the 2020 results, with one slate winning all the positions and only one race being contested.
Students have also raised concerns about the voting process and BBB’s campaigning methods.
Mitra Yakubi was re-elected as president with a 77 per cent approval rating. Her position was uncontested with 879 votes in favour and 257 against.
Lai Wei was elected as vice-president internal with an 82 per cent approval rating, winning 914 votes in favour and 205 against. For vice-president external, Maëlis Barre won with an 81 per cent approval rating. She received 895 votes in favour and 207 against. Both candidates ran unopposed.
The vice-president university affairs position was also uncontested, with Merica Joy Carlos taking the seat with an 81 per cent approval rating. Carlos received 892 votes in favour and 204 against.
The race for vice-president equity involved two independent candidates and one BBB slate member, Ryan Tomlinson. Tomlinson won with 648 votes and 61 per cent of total votes. His opponents, Laiba Khan and Maryam Yousefipournigjeh, received 233 and 173 votes, respectively.
Concerns about voting, campaigning
While the elections are normally held in person, they had to be held online this year due to the pandemic. The UTMSU normally does not have an online voting system since it voted against implementing one in 2018.
Students have raised concerns about the online voting process: to vote, students had to enter a Zoom call and give their student number and name to receive a unique voting pin. An email from current vice-president internal Fahad Dayala to The Varsity noted that this process only took three minutes.
Students have also raised concerns about BBB’s campaigning methods. Two students have written and publicly posted a letter to the chief returning officer (CRO) that claims that the candidates had been excessively messaging students on a variety of social media platforms. The BBB team disputes this criticism, writing in an email to The Varsity that their messages to students were approved by the CRO.
This story is developing, more to come soon.
Editor’s note (March 21): This article has been updated to add information on complaints about BBB’s campaigning process and response from BBB on the matter.