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Student Court Decision

Posted By Tim Louman-Gardiner On March 26, 2008 @ 10:35 pm In Elections,Investigative | Comments Disabled

The Student Court released its decision today in the VP Academic matter. They allowed the appeal, ordering that Alex Lougheed be disqualified. The Court left the matter of how to fill the vacancy up to the AMS Executive. More to come later, undoubtedly after Council. But, for those interested, the excerpt that outlines the reasoning of the judgment after the jump.

EDIT: Council refused to “accept” the Student Court’s judgment. That’ll teach me to go to sleep and leave the blog un-updated. Though that’s two straight Court decisions that have been politically overturned by Council. This may just be my lawyerly pre-disposition talking, but that begs the question: why have a student court at all? More to come.

PS – Please don’t turn this into another silly slappy fight in our comments section. I hereby attempt to distract you by linking to The Devil’s Advocate [1], which is back and awesome and only slightly libelous.

[5] The AMS Bylaws, Code and Constitution do not state explicitly that a voter must vote only once, but this principle can be inferred from the Code section IX A Article 5(7), which states, “The Elections Committee shall take whatever steps necessary to ensure that only eligible voters cast ballots and to ensure that each eligible voter votes only once.” Combine this with the generally-known fact that in a democracy, each voter is allowed only one vote, and with the procedure for online voting in the AMS election, which made it impossible, short of hacking the system, to vote more than once, and it is apparent that voters in the AMS election were each allowed only one vote. Mr. Lougheed voted four times in violation of the AMS Code.

[6] Mr. Lougheed’s testimony that he voted multiple times as a protest against the lack of secrecy in the balloting system is not only irrelevant, it is very shaky. It is irrelevant because it is the act of voting multiple times which is an offence, not voting multiple times for any particular purpose. It is shaky because he admittedly voted multiple times in last year’s election as well as this year’s, but for a different reason. It is very hard to believe that his multiple voting was undertaken as a protest this year when, as he described to us during the hearing, it was done as a joke last year. This is even harder to believe in light of the fact that the protest was not made public, as argued by Mr. Norouzi for Mr. Crompton. Mr. Lougheed’s extra votes did not affect the outcome of the election, but the very act of voting multiple times is repugnant to the fair running of a democratic election. By voting multiple times, he flouted the very system by which he hoped to gain legitimate office. This is a serious enough offence to warrant the candidate’s disqualification from the election.

[7] Section IX A Article 3(2) states that the Elections Administrator may, for serious offences, disqualify a candidate. He also has the power, under Section IX A Article 1(B)(2)(s) to rule an election valid based on whether any irregularities have materially affected the results. Since Mr. Lougheed’s multiple ballots did not affect the outcome of the election, it appears that the Elections Administrator was within his jurisdiction and discretion to make the decision he made.

[8] However, it is a principle of administrative law that a decision, though made legitimately in accordance with the decision-maker’s mandated power, can be appealed and overturned on the basis that the decision was either incorrect or unreasonable. In this case, the court must show deference Mr. Piovesan because: a) this is a matter of policy, b) because Mr. Piovesan was the Elections Administrator, he had special expertise, and c) although this is of central importance to the UBC system, it is not outside of Mr. Piovesan’s area of expertise, reasonableness is therefore the correct standard of review to use. Given that Mr. Lougheed committed a serious offence by voting more that once in violation of the AMS Code and also in violation of the basic principles of the democratic system by which he hoped to profit, the Elections Administrator’s decision to declare the election valid was unreasonable. He also had it within his power to disqualify Mr. Lougheed, and this would have been the reasonable decision. This Court therefore overturns the decision of the Elections Administrator and disqualifies Mr. Lougheed from the election for AMS VP Academic.

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[1] The Devil’s Advocate: http://ubcdevilsadvocate.blogspot.com/

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