Editorial: CSU By-Elections Were a Peek Into the Union’s Disorganization

Botched Polling Process Cost Students Money

The postponement of the Concordia Student Union by-elections scheduled to take place Nov. 27 to the 29 is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the union’s dysfunction.

After the first day of the elections saw the malfunctioning of computers used to verify voters’ identities–leading to a closure of the polls for several hours–ballots were found unattended in the Hall building lobby. These ballots found on a table used earlier for polling contained identifying information. On top of this, it was also realized that ballots had not been numbered, mandatory per the CSU’s election regulations.

The CSU’s chief electoral officer had to postpone the elections due to these mishaps, scheduling them for January. This is the second time the by-elections have been delayed, as they were originally scheduled for October. The original postponement was issued after the CSU was unable to find someone willing to work as CEO, though they had since before the beginning of the semester to figure this out.

Before the by-elections were even supposed to be held, trouble was afoot. The CSU had to choose a new CEO after the previous one resigned less than a week before the by-elections were scheduled.

The current CEO, Claire Girard-Moreau, came into the position on Nov. 23, the Friday before the Tuesday election day. Due to the last-minute nature of her appointment and her lack of training for the position, she didn’t know to number the ballots. Girard-Moreau finishes her degree this semester, leaving the CSU to find yet another CEO before January’s polling begins.

Amidst the union’s disorganization, council decided in Wednesday’s council meeting to move forward with online voting for the January by-elections. While online voting was supposed to be included in these by-elections’ referendum questions, council decided in a meeting to move forward without asking the students first through traditional paper ballot.

The mishandled by-elections reflects the CSU’s lack of organization—but dismissing the opinions of students the CSU is meant to represent is disrespectful. Councillor Rory Blaisdell said in Wednesday’s meeting that referendum questions are merely “a courtesy,” and defended the decision to move forward with online voting before undergraduates received the opportunity to vote on the referendum question. If there was any doubt before, it’s now clear the union doesn’t care about the student body’s opinion on this matter.

Not involving Concordia students in the decision to hold online voting in the pending by-elections puts the function of the CSU into question. Where do students fit if council can make such large decisions without the involvement of students? The precedent being set here is without a doubt concerning.

When it was decided to go ahead with online voting, safety concerns surrounding paper ballots were brought up due to the discovery of the unattended ballots on the evening of Nov. 27. Still, as they say, two wrongs don’t make a right: despite this serious mishandling of students’ personal information by leaving the ballots behind, it’s still irresponsible for the CSU to push through this change in voting method without consulting students first.

The botched process has tangible consequences for the student body. The CSU estimated the by-elections cost them about $25,500—money coming directly out of Concordia students’ wallets.