Students head back to the polls for four KSU races

Four of the five races for the KSU elections will be heading back to the polls this week after union chair Jake Eidinger announced last week’s election was incomplete. Two candidates successfully appealed disqualifications. Three races didn’t meet quorum.

The KSU’s online poster for their rescheduled elections this week. (Facebook)

Four of the five races for the KSU elections will be heading back to the polls this week after union chair Jake Eidinger announced last week’s election was incomplete.
The race for science representative is the only one not being redone.
Two candidates — in the arts and first-year races — successfully appealed disqualifications. Three of the races — member-at-large, journalism representative and arts representative — didn’t meet quorum.
“With journalism, it was kind of expected. It’s always been one of the (races) that have always been hard to get,” said KSU chief returning officer Oliver Burrows.
“We now know where we need to target.”
The voter turnout among first-year students was lower than usual — 22 per cent of the total King’s population voted. But the KSU isn’t sure why.
“It’s been difficult getting people to vote,” he added.
The post-first year disconnect is a major issue in the student vote. King’s student Katie Brousseau, whose classes are now all at Dal, didn’t hear about the election until after it had happened. (Photo: Sean Mott)

Burrows says part of this difficulty comes down to quorum — the percentage of the student population needed voting — being 25 per cent. The majority of upper-year students live off-campus and aren’t “connected as much with the political scene at King’s.” Usually however, the first-year vote supplements that.

Voter turnout, by category (Oct. 10 and 11 election):

First-year: 36 per cent
Science: 26 per cent
Arts: 22 per cent
Journalism: 23 per cent
Member-at-large: 22 per cent
Quorum: 25 per cent

Member-at-large candidate Karen Gross felt a little disappointed. “It felt like I wasn’t able to keep moving on. I was really hoping I would get re-elected and I that I could keep doing my job. And so it made it a little awkward and confusing, the next day, when I had an office hour.”
Gross said the DSS elections were somewhat distracting, because people voted in the DSS election thinking they voted in the KSU election.
She said there may have been a lack of advertising, and voter turnout was better when the Watch “did profiles for the election in February when I was first running.”
“I don’t think it is the Watch‘s responsibility to publicize KSU elections,” she added. “That being said, when candidate profiles are done I think it does help spread the word.”

“I don’t think it’s apathy, it’s just being disconnected. If (students) were involved at King’s more, they would have more reason to vote but everything they need is basically at Dal.”

– King’s student Katie Brousseau on why students didn’t vote

Emily Rendell-Watson, running to represent four-year j-schoolers, pointed to “quite a few” students heading home early last week for Thanksgiving as a factor. There wasn’t an advance voting poll.
Burrow said that came down to conflicting schedules. “It’s really difficult to get (the six elections committee volunteers) organized just for those two (voting) days.”
But there was a second issue with the election.
Arts representative candidate Tiphaera Cohen and first-year representative candidate Carli Gardner were disqualified because of several issues regarding their campaign — they left posters and Facebook posts up after the deadline to take them down. Cohen returned a poster location form too late and Gardner didn’t number her posters.
They’re campaigning again because of errors chair Jake Eidinger ruled Burrows and the elections committee made in procedure.
Eidinger’s announcement said Burrows “acted on his own initiative.” Before the elections committee voted through the decision, Cohen and Gardner were crossed off the ballots — Gardner says she found out when her friend asked her why her name wasn’t on the ballot in FYP lecture.
Cohen and Gardner said they were frustrated with the process and lack of communication. They appealed.
Because Burrows’s decision wasn’t voted through by elections committee before Cohen and Gardner were pulled from the race, the appeal was accepted. A fourth race — first-year representative, where 36 per cent voted — was added to the list of elections to be redone, even though Katie Douglas had already been voted in.
“Some of these rules that we were kind of caught out on were put in place last year,” said Gardner.
“There was no aid to help achieve what we wanted to achieve by being on the KSU.”
Although the appeal went through, the two were worried it wouldn’t.
“We weren’t exactly faultless in the situation. We did have posters that were left up,” said Cohen.
But, she says, there are “flaws” in the way the KSU’s election process works.
“There was a larger issue,” Cohen said. “There was a lot of miscommunication, a lack of transparency and how the whole process over voting, for a disqualification, worked. From that perspective, I think that’s why (the appeal) went through.”
For Cohen and Gardner, the way they were felt treated by the KSU does have them feeling somewhat discouraged.
“We didn’t agree with the process. We achieved our appeal. Now our names are on the ballot. That’s good. We deserve our names to be there, but I don’t really have the desire anymore,” Gardner said.
If she does win, Gardner said she would work hard, but she would also feel bad taking a position Douglas already won.
Regardless, the four races are reset. Students will check off their ballots tomorrow and Friday to, once again, elect the representative of their choice.

Cohen and Gardner’s disqualification and appeal: how it happened, in order

  • Cohen does not submit her poster location form in time and Gardner doesn’t number her posters.
  • Cohen and Gardner both leave posters and Facebook posts, on the Class of 2017 Facebook page, up past deadline.
  • CRO Oliver Burrows decides to disqualify Cohen and Gardner Oct. 9, the day before the election.
  • The election committee meets on Oct. 9 and ratifies Burrows’s decision — according to Roberts Rules of Order and the procedural rules of the union, the committee cannot ratify a decision it didn’t initially make.
  • Cohen and Gardner are crossed off the ballot by hand.
  • According to Cohen, Burrows tells Cohen she is disqualified at breakfast on Oct. 10, the first day of voting. Burrows has said she was notified on Oct. 9.
  • Gardner finds out she is disqualified at FYP lecture when asked why she is not on the ballot.
  • Cohen and Gardner appeal Burrows and the election committee’s ruling to chair Jake Eidinger on Oct. 11.
  • Eidinger overrules Burrows on Oct. 12, due to the violation of disqualification procedure. He “encourages” the elections committee to look into ambiguity in the election rules and miscommunication between the elections committee and KSU councillor candidates.

Cohen and Gardner’s Letter of Appeal by kingswatch

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

3 replies on “Students head back to the polls for four KSU races”

Please fix the dates in the timeline of events, they were disqualified on the 9th an hour or so before the voting occurred and Ms. Cohen was informed on 9th about the disqualification

Thanks, Oliver. Our timeline already matches the first date you mentioned, but we’ve updated the timeline to reflect both stories in terms of when Tiphaera Cohen learned about her disqualification.

People in the upper years are not voting because they are disenfranchised. How many councillors have been acclaimed each year? In elections they are unopposed and in the board room they are unanimous.
They shouldn’t care how long posters are left up. They should care about students feeling welcome to become involved, instead of intimidated and deterred by bureaucratic bullshit that doesn’t fit with the ethos of the community.
Not reaching quorum shows they have built their pedestal so high that people can’t be bothered to crane their necks and give a damn.
Redoing the elections is necessary but over 70% of King’s students made a statement already.

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