Second election possible
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Second election possible
By Paul-Mark Rendon
Last week's presidential election for the Society of Graduate Students should be old news by now, however controversy is keeping the books from closing shut.
An appeal of the election was formally submitted to SOGS chief returning officer Ritu Kothari on Monday night, beginning a process which may now take another month to put to rest.
"We have a lot of problems with the election. There was no advanced poll and no mail-in vote for part-time students which comprised one-third of last year's vote," explained Carolyn Stoyles, VP-student services for SOGS and one of three initiators of the appeal request.
Stoyles said the appeal lists numerous other infractions and discrepancies which would render the election invalid. Among the alleged infractions is the premature destruction of ballots, which were shredded directly after the first count, preventing a re-count of votes.
The final vote tally gave the victory to Susan McDonald, a PhD English student. McDonald ousted Kelly Barrowcliffe, the incumbent, 129 votes to 64 votes.
Stoyles, a scrutineer for the final tally, said upon review some ballots looked suspiciously similar, which led her to the notion that ballot tampering may have occurred. "Let's just say the number of ballots did not equal the number of people on the voting list," she said.
In the wake of the appeal, Kothari said she was disappointed the matter had come to this point. "I wasn't surprised because this entire election has become more personal than anything," she said.
Kothari added her next step would be to review the appeal and either rule the election void, in which case a new election process would begin or let the first election results stand.
Stoyles said if the election results stood, it would not necessarily mean the end of the appeal process. "It's all up to the CRO. If we're not satisfied, we'll take it to the appeal board," she said.
A new election would comprise of a re-opening of nominations, with new campaign and voting periods lasting one week each. "If we're lucky, it will take a month," she said.
Under Kothari's instructions, both Barrowcliffe and McDonald would not comment on the appeal proceedings.
"I'm going to end up talking to both of them [today]," said Kothari, who admitted she would now have to play detective, given the numerous sets of alleged infractions.