Updated @ 7:32 p.m. on Mar. 27
The results of last week’s 2011-2012 SGA-AGE elections have been deemed invalid.
The election’s Chief Returning Officer, Alexander Bourdon, made the call late Friday morning after the set quorum of 15 per cent of members, as outlined in the SGA constitution, was not reached.
Some 550 votes were cast in the election, held Mar. 23 and 24. Approximately 700 ballots would have had to have been cast in order to satisfy the quorum requirements.
The SGA was quick to formulate a contingency.
“We have a two-part plan that we think is the most legal and fair,” said outgoing SGA President Samantha Pitzel in an email to Lambda.
The first part: a re-ballot has been scheduled for April 4 and 5. Students who previously cast votes will still be able to do so in the new election. Candidates will be able to campaign in the coming week if they wish to do so, according to Pitzel.
At the same time, the SGA will convene two back-to-back board meetings this Friday, April 1, with the aim of substantially reducing or even eliminating the current quorum law in the constitution. A two-thirds vote is required to change such a law.
“Very few schools have quorum for student union elections, and ours is oddly high even compared to the ones that do,” Pitzel said.
According to the now invalid results of this week’s election, SGA presidential candidate Charlie Andrews narrowly-defeated Keygan Ricketts by only five votes. James Sylvestre defeated Iain Park in the race for VP Services by a narrow margin of 10 votes. Current VP Issues Casey Lalonde was significantly-trounced by candidate Tim Campbell by almost 100 votes.
These results are now deemed completely invalid and will have no bearing on the new ballot.
VP Issues candidate Campbell isn’t surprised by the outcome of the election.
“In my discussion with students, they seem to have no connection or feel no need to vote, many commenting that the “issues” and government was out of mind and their control,” he said in a statement to Lambda. “We must remain loyal to our structure and constitution, and in this situation, I give our president Sam Pitzel kudos for the political savy she’s employing – creating a solution that will benefit students in the years to come.”
In a similar statement to Lambda, VP Services candidate Park expressed optimism at having a second chance with the voters.
“Though the failure to reach quorum is disappointing, the event of a second election only gives ourselves as candidates further opportunity to engage the SGA student body,” he said. “My qualifications and experience speak for themselves, and on Monday and Tuesday I plan to receive an unprecedented amount of support.”
“Engaging students is always a challenge – not all students get [involved] in their union and there a good many who do not even know who or what we are,” said VP Issues candidate Lalonde in a statement to Lambda. “I think this is an opportunity to reflect on our traditional ways of working and embrace sustainable change in the right direction.”
Though only a few of the SGA candidates responded to a request for comment on the outcome of the election, some took to Facebook to voice their opinions.
“I am deeply upset with the situation, but this approach will be fair for everyone running,” wrote presidential candidate Andrews on his profile. “Considering how close it was, I hope you (my friends) will [find] time to vote again.”
“If the decision is to have another election, I will do my part, because I do want the position,” wrote VP Services candidate Sylvestre on Facebook. “However, this really is a terrible time of year to be campaigning.”
The Student General Association is Laurentian University’s largest student union, representing over 4,500 full-time students.
The SGA provides several services to its members including Frosh Month activities, a comprehensive prescription drug and dental plan, the Pub DownUnder, funding for CKLU and Lambda, and the Universal Bus Pass.
The association controls a budget of approximately $1.8 million.
The ballots cast in last week’s election represents a voter turnout of approximately 12 per cent. According to SGA meeting minutes, last year’s voter turnout was in the neighborhood of 20 per cent.
Here are the results of the Mar. 23/24 SGA-AGE Election for the 2011-2012 school year:
Charlie Andrews: 297 votes
Keygan Ricketts: 292 votes
SGA Vice President, Services
Iain Park: 283 votes
James Sylvestre: 293 votes
SGA Vice President, Issues
Tim Campbell: 334 votes
Casey Lalonde: 239 votes
Laurentian Senate SGA Representative
Zack Courtemanche: 434 YES votes, 114 NO votes
Mark Mancini: 435 YES votes, 109 NO votes
For more information on the candidates for SGA office, visit TheLambda.ca/SGA-Election-Guide/