Voting irregularities?

The UBC Student Media blog is reporting that there were people going around Place Vanier last night distributing cookies, carrying a laptop, and asking people to vote for a particular candidate for VP Academic. This is the first I’ve heard of the matter, and while plausible, I would like to hear more confirmations of the occurrence. It would seem to be a rather silly thing to do, seeing as it’s in direct violation of campaign rules, meaning that the candidate would have much more to lose than to gain, particularly when that candidate’s chances are pretty good as it is. So what are the possibilities?

1.) This actually happened, and it was intentional. In this case, we could probably expect the EA to not accept the results of the election for this particular race, and to hold another election for the position.

2.) This happened, and someone not involved with the campaign was going around doing this. In the past (and not even in the AMS), candidates have been punished for rules that have been broken by others. I know this is a possibility in SUS, so I would presume that the same can go for the AMS.

3.) This incident didn’t actually occur, or it may be possible that people were simply trying to get others to vote, or whatnot- I’m sure there are lots of reasonable explanations.

4.) The incident didn’t occur and people are attempting to frame a candidate in a bad light. This would be pretty bad form, and would only serve to make students dislike the AMS and further be discouraged from voting.

I’d definitely like to hear from others on the matter. So far the EA hasn’t commented on the incident, although I would presume that it would be under investigation. I would ask some serious questions in general about this campaign rule, however. Candidates aren’t supposed to pressure others into voting for them, but I’d ask what constitutes pressure. Yes, people can always say no, but lots of types of campaigning can constitute “pressure”. It’s not uncommon to see candidates approach people with laptops, for instance, and give them flyers with voting information, and to ask for their support. Candidates will often just go up to people and ask for their vote. They may get their friends to do the same. I’m not sure how convinced I am by the notion that in this situation, people would feel more pressured to vote for a candidate than in some of the other allowed scenarios. I’m not in support of candidates going up to people with laptops and asking for their vote right then and there simply because I see it as bad form and a sort of desperate tactic- I personally wouldn’t feel pressure. But then I’m not most people, so I can see how the argument would apply.

The other question, though, is what happens if the candidate wasn’t involved in planning this and didn’t know about it? It’s perfectly plausible that someone wanted to help them out, and didn’t know the election rules. Candidates can’t be held fully responsible for the actions of their friends/supporters, and even if they say something, you can’t necessarily stop people from doing what they choose. If this was the case, then would it be fair to punish the candidate or to hold another election?

We’ll see how this develops. Please comment if you witnessed the event taking place.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. No, I don’t quite agree. I think that it’s a noble thing for friends to try to help out a candidate – but there must be due diligence exercised. By not bothering to find out the elections code, people are woefully negligent. Candidates, who are more than likely to be aware that their friends will assist in their campaigns, ought to take great pains to inform all parties as to the electoral code.

    In law, ignorance is no defense – why should it be so here? This is just a case of vicarious liability.

    That having been said, I hope nothing too dramatic comes of this.

    Posted by Justin Yang | February 3, 2009, 2:17 pm
  2. I don’t know how much truth there is to it. I was in and out of meetings around the vanier commonsblock all evening, and I didn’t see any of the VP Candidates down there.

    Might be a different story if it was a friend of a candidate, however.

    I, along with our Residence Life Manager have been very clear to the Vanier staff about our policies regarding campaigning in residence, so I’m sure if it happened, someone would have noticed.

    Posted by Korczyk | February 3, 2009, 3:24 pm
  3. This post seems a little bit outdated.The comment from the eyewitness to the event is here:


    and this is the post that has a lot of comments by different people on this issue:


    Posted by Rodrigo Ferrari Nunes | February 3, 2009, 5:52 pm
  4. Rodrigo, you have one witness, and there have been several people who have now said that this didn’t in fact happen. The purpose of the post isn’t to slander a candidate for potentially doing nothing wrong, but to a.) inform people of the story and its potential consequences and b.) to find out if your story has any actual merit. Most of the comments in the story are either complete rumour, or they make references to things that have nothing to do with the story. People have looked into it and it’s unsubstantiated.

    Posted by Maria_Jogova | February 3, 2009, 6:18 pm
  5. You should contact the student who filed the claim directly instead of trying to accuse us of unfair reporting.

    I am curious as to how do you know the student who reported this is lying, and what his motivation is to do this.

    According to Kommander Keg, it was indeed a violation. And last year we saw the same thing happen and Messoloras getting disqualified. I think that, as in general, people are afraid of pushing hard issues, and prefer to be bland and dry, and look the other way when their friends do something wrong.

    Posted by Rodrigo Ferrari Nunes | February 3, 2009, 6:29 pm
  6. I heard a rumour that Alex Lougheed eats puppies. Are we going to report on that next?

    Posted by Eden Hart | February 3, 2009, 6:39 pm
  7. Rodrigo- yes, this would be a violation of the rules if it had happened.

    I don’t know the person who filed a complaint- but I do know that several people have now denied it. Until it’s been confirmed, I do not want to publish the names of the people implicated, because as far as I’m concerned, so far it’s just hearsay. So why do I even bother posting on it? Because students want to know what happened. Because it’s still news that might affect the election. Because I feel that students should know what possible ramifications are if this is true. And no, I’m not accusing you of anything, Rodrigo- you also are reporting on a story. I just chose to do the same thing differently. I’m not looking the other way, I just don’t want to mention a name, as rumours tend to stick, and until there’s more evidence that this happened, I do not wish to add fuel to the fire. See my previous post on the role of rumours in elections.

    Posted by Maria_Jogova | February 3, 2009, 6:47 pm
  8. Unless the elections code has changed drastically in the past year, candidates are held accountable for the actions of those campaigning on their behalf (with or without their support or knowledge).

    This is done to avoid sneaky violations of the elections rules where the candidate gets his/her friends to play dirty, then claims no knowledge. The EA would need proof that the candidate directed it — such proof is nearly impossible to get, and if the candidate can easily avoid consequences in any case, supporters may just decide to play dirty of their own accord. When the candidates are held accountable, they (in principle) tell their supporters “If you don’t follow these rules, I could be disqualified”, and things tend to work out.

    If I’m the EA, I first need to talk with a lot of people to establish what exactly happened. If something bad happened, I have to establish whether it likely had an impact on the outcome. In first-past-the-post, if this is a 100-vote effect and the margin of victory is 150 votes (or the candidate doing it lost), it didn’t change the outcome, and a reimbursement penalty would suffice. This analysis is more complicated in Condorcet, but still possible, and the more-detailed information available this year on when votes are cast might even allow the EA to pick out unusual patterns in voting behaviour.

    If the allegations are proven and may have materially affected the outcome, the candidate can be disqualified, the voting in that race can be redone or perhaps reopened to dilute the questionable votes (with severe campaign restrictions on the culprit), or some other creative solution could be found. Votes cannot be subtracted — this is disallowed by Code and doing it reliably isn’t possible with secret ballots, let alone ranked ballots.

    Given the preparation required for paper balloting and the rather limited number of ways candidates can be punished at this point, I’d probably just withhold the results of that race and deal with it in a few days.

    Posted by Fire Hydrant | February 3, 2009, 9:00 pm

    Posted by Alex Lougheed | February 4, 2009, 2:26 am
  10. As per elections committee’s release this morning, there’s a reason we don’t take Rodrigo seriously people.

    How is the Knoll Aid 2.0 Truth Commission coming along?

    Posted by radicalbeer | February 4, 2009, 12:09 pm
  11. Radical beer – are you engaging in ‘rodrigo-hatred’ or what? I guess that is allowed and fostered where you come from. In fact, the UBC Student Media is not just Rodrigo (what a feat that would be), but since you think in monotones, we’ll allow your intelligence to bloom. Your logic is: attack and discredit student activists just for being activists, we don’t need them, here where everyone wears a suit and speaks the same language. And, ahh, thanks for screwing up the Electoral Area A district elections, by the way. Your 60 votes cost the best candidate the race, so good job!

    Posted by Rodrigo Ferrari Nunes | February 4, 2009, 1:17 pm
  12. Rodrigo, you can’t deny that your source was mistaken. This isn’t about student activism at all. This is about reporting on things and not implicating someone in something until there’s evidence that says otherwise. This also has nothing to do with student activism, and everything about trying to slander a person’s name by actually reporting the name of a student who was shown not to be involved in the ‘scandal’. Don’t let your views cloud your judgment. This has nothing to do with student activism, and everything to do with reporting. You can be skeptical, but only to a certain extent.

    Posted by Maria_Jogova | February 4, 2009, 1:24 pm
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