Harassment reports during elections

At the University of Toronto Mississauga Students’ Union’s board meeting last Tuesday, the chief returning officer, Sahab Jesuthasan, stated that there have been several claims of harassment made against one the running candidates in the union’s Spring elections.

The names involved in the harassment were withheld for confidentiality. The CRO stated that there was neither a definitive procedure for dealing with harassment accusations in the Election Procedure Code, nor was there a clear outline of how many demerit points should be issued if harassment claims were made.

Some operation issues with the T-Card scanners also occurred on March 8, the first day of the voting period, at the polling stations. The scanner delays caused the voting polls to open at 10 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. As a result, there were many “double-envelopes,” according to the CRO.

The Medium reached out to the CRO for further clarification on the “double-envelopes” and the scanner issues, but did not receive a response as of press time.

The CRO commented at the meeting that he was obligated to post all reports of misdemeanor on the Wall of Transparency, which is made to update students on the demerit points for each team. However, Jesuthasan chose to withhold this information due to the “unclear protocol” and the confidentiality of the complainants.

As previously reported by The Medium, the Wall of Transparency was last updated only on the second day of the elections. Jesuthasan admitted he was “slow” to update the wall because he became “overwhelmed” during the election period.

He also added that he got flooded with pictures of the board and points from people asking for disqualification of candidates. He therefore conceded that posting points after the election would allegedly limit such attempts to discredit candidates.

The CRO, on the other hand, credited UTMSU’s VP external and this year’s chair of the Election and Referenda Committee, Marise Hopkins, and the rest of the ERC members for their quick response to candidate appeals.

This year’s elections featured additional polling stations in the Kaneff Centre, which, according to Jesuthasan, had a high student turnout at around 200 votes. He recommended these polling stations be kept in next year’s elections.

Several amendments were suggested by Jesuthasan throughout the board meeting, including that the ERC needs to decide on a course of action if allegations are made in the future; amendment of the process to only display demerit points after the elections had taken place; and removal of the Deerfield Hall polling station due to having the lowest turnout, at only 58 votes.

UTMSU’s Spring elections ran from March 8 to 10, and concluded with the victory of the Fresh UTM slate.