BDS Ballots Suspended Indefinitely

Controversial Referendum Question Sealed Away Until Decision Can Be Made

  • Students waiting to vote in this year’s by-elections. photo Brandon Johnston

The ballots for the controversial Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) referendum will not be counted at pollings’ end tonight.

Andre-Marcel Baril, the Concordia Student Union’s Chief Electoral Officer, said in an email statement that due to an “overwhelming” amount of “complaints and issues,” an independent firm will be consulted to reach a “reasonable and fair decision.” The count is suspended for an indefinite time period.

Baril added that the ballots will be sealed in a “safe and secure location” until the issues are resolved. “Navigating the situation alone” was deemed irresponsible and the decision to consult a specialized firm came after discussions with CSU General Manager Robert Henri, the CEO continued.

On Monday night, a last-minute appeal to the CSU Judicial Board by Concordians United Against BDS eventually led to the decision to use an alternate question, which Baril also wrote.

“A group of people started to discuss it on Friday, and it was only by Sunday that this group of people were able to schedule a judicial board meeting,” Baril told The Link. “There is a mandatory open period on the Monday prior to polling that the judicial board has to be made available for emergencies.”

With the change to the alternate question—“Do you approve of the CSU endorsing the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel?”—new, separate ballots had to be printed late into Monday night.

The new ballots do not have removable tabs like the ones the other referenda are printed on. Baril said there is “no requirement anywhere in the regulations” for every ballot to have a detachable tab, which poses the question of why they’re there in the first place.

“The only thing it needs to have is to be labelled with specific serial numbers and it has to say which number of the referendum questions it is,” Baril told The Link about requirements for a ballot.

The CEO added that the process has been “completely transparent.”

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