In the unofficial results posted on UTMSU’s Facebook page on March 12, Fresh UTM has swept the elections by winning the majority of the votes for each of the five executive positions.
Salma Fakhry has won the presidential candidate with 2102 votes, while First UTM’s presidential candidate, Alex Gignac received 648 votes.
1932 votes went to Maya Tomkiewics, the candidate for UTMSU’s VP university affairs and academics. First UTM’s candidate, Christina Khokhar received 780 photos.
As for the VP internal, the only candidate running for this position from Fresh UTM, Vikko Qu, was elected with 2291 votes for him, 423 against, and 135 spoiled.
Sagal Osman from Fresh won the VP equity position by 2108 votes, while First’s candidate, Mduduzi Mhlanga obtained 603 votes. Mhlanga has been disqualified for exceeding the allowed number of demerit points, 40, and receiving 64 demerits.
The VP external position went to Jose Wilson from Fresh by 1906 votes. Ali Taha from First UTM received 798 votes.
Unclear demerit points
In an interview with The Medium, Alex Gignac, the presidential candidate for team UTM First revealed that as of Friday morning, his team had numerous allegations that totaled up to 50 demerit points. However, the Wall of Transparency throughout the elections in the Student Centre was only last updated on Wednesday, March 8.
As of last Friday, the wall showed two posts for UTM First, both signed on March 8 at 11:45 p.m. The first post, with 23 demerit points, stated that on the second day of the elections, March 7, multiple volunteers were seen campaigning in non-campaigning zones when photographs were taken and submitted to the chief returning officer, Sahab Jesuthasan. The second post also referred to the same allegation, with a total of 38 demerits.
“It’s been changed overnight, and right now, we’re all at 50,” said Gignac in a phone interview with The Medium on Friday morning. He explained that after the team had appealed the points, they thought they had 30 instead. “We’re trying to get in touch with the CRO, and he’s not answering his phone. We woke up with this, so it’s a little hectic here.”
According to UTMSU’s Election Procedure Code, campaigning in unauthorized areas results in 10 demerit points.
When asked for clarification on why the wall wasn’t being updated frequently and on the total number of demerit points granted for each team, the chair of the Elections and Referenda Committee, Marise Hopkins, stated in an email to The Medium on Thursday evening that she could not “accurately give [The Medium] the demerit points for each team as they stand accurately.” She further explained that “the demerit points and current standing of the candidates may be subject to change” as the appeals are still in process.
Jesuthasan responded to The Medium’s question about the demerit points on the evening of March 12, saying that UTM First has 39 demerits while their VP equity candidate, Mduduzi Mhlanga has 64 points. Hopkins also replied to The Medium’s follow-up emails on March 12 evening stating that Mhlanga has been disqualified for exceeding the number of demerit points allowed.
“We’re still in a situation where we’re getting demerit points and we’re appealing them because we don’t think it’s fair, and we don’t think those demerit points have any grounds” Gignac had stated on Friday morning. “The CRO is being very slow in updating the board this year, and at the same time, we’re appealing a lot, and the ERC has been very slow to meet.”
In response to these claims, Hopkins wrote an email to The Medium on March 11 stating that she and the CRO have been following up with the timeline’s outlines in the EPC that mandates them to respond within 48 hours.
“May I ask why myself, the committee, and the CRO are being accused of being slow?” wrote Hopkins. “We have been diligent and followed the exact timelines outlined in the EPC, responses were given back within a 24 hour to 48 hour timeline.”
Hopkins added that “specific slates” do not respond to deadlines on time. “We have also been chasing specific slates to answer emails and answer clarifications and reminding them to meet deadlines because certain slates have missed several of those very deadlines. So I’m very confused as to why a slate would state we are being slow.”
The wall also listed a similar allegation of violating campaigning areas for team Fresh UTM. The team was given a total of 20 points in one post and 28 points in another post, both of which were signed on March 8 at 11:45 p.m., as well. In response to an interview request, the Fresh UTM slate declined a phone interview and requested to have questions sent by email instead.
On Saturday, Fresh UTM stated to The Medium that the team currently has 13 points, after appealing their demerits.
“We receive updates about demerit points within 48hrs, so we believe that appeals have been heard within a reasonable timeline,” Fresh UTM added.
Teams typically have 48 hours to appeal their points. The final tally for demerit points is expected to be released on Sunday after all the appeals have been made.
Elections resumed last week from Tuesday through Thursday. The official election results are yet to be ratified by the election and referenda committee. More updates to follow.