By Matt Rabey
On Feb. 6, Chloë Mirfield was elected Chief Returning Officer (CRO) for the SGA.
Mirfield chose to run for the position because she has “a lot of experience with elections and the issues [associated] with elections. Having run in every election from high school to when I was out west at UBC to here [at Laurentian University]. I decided that just because I’m not returning next year and not running for any positions, I thought my knowledge and wisdom could be used still in an unbiased position to make a smooth election, for the first time in 10 years of the SGA.”
The CRO is in charge of the overall running of the election.
“We do everything,” said Mirfield. “From vote counting to overseeing postering, candidate nominations, everything.”
The position of CRO is not a salaried position, however, they do receive a stipend at the end of the election for work put in.
The job is posted by the SGA and all interested students can submit their resumes to the SGA office.
The SGA board, at a board meeting open to all students, then holds a discussion while in camera regarding the applicants.
After discussion, the voting board members in attendance elect the new CRO.
The work can be challenging and enforcement of the rules can be necessary, according to Mirfield.
“The biggest thing we’re trying to deal with now is the influence of social media in elections. One of the biggest issues facing the last election was the use of the Internet to campaign. The CRO at the time with the elections committee, decided to not allow online campaigning and the issues came up when one candidate in particular decided to use online campaigning.”
The infraction of these rules as well as others caused one of the candidates in last year’s election to be disqualified. This coming election, social media and the Internet are once again a hot topic of debate, according to Mirfield.
“One of the things we’re going be looking at is the Internet. Is it going to be allowed? One of the biggest arguments why they [candidates] want online campaigning is, if you don’t have residence. It is a very powerful thing and it is such a large clique that the only way you can battle that is if you can use an online campaign to reach the greater community.”
The CRO also works closely with the elections committee, which share the responsibility of running the election.
This year, according to Mirfield, the CRO and elections committee are working for a fair and legitimate election.
“A key thing to getting people interested in an election is to show that it is a legitimate election, so that’ll be a big drive. It has always been a legitimate election, but we kind of need to get the trust back from the students that everything is going smoothly and I think that transparency is a thing, but also making it intelligible for people that aren’t familiar with the election process and once you get involved you understand it’ll be a lot easier to get people to jump on board.”
In order to ensure that this happens, the CRO will have to work long hours, especially on the night of the election, Mirfield added.
Last year the CRO and members of the elections committee were in the SGA office until five in the morning, counting ballots. The election is only a few weeks away and, regardless of its outcome, Mirfield reminds those running that, “it’s a learning experience, even for those who aren’t getting elected. Politics is politics, everywhere.”