Shredding

The controversial student programs officer (SPO) election is finally over after a vote recount reaffirmed Mac McIntosh as the winner.  

When the initial results were announced on Sunday, McIntosh had won. However, the USC's elections committee made an error in counting the results in the second round of the ranked ballots which led to a recount. 

The ballots to elect the SPO requested each councillor to rank their choice out of the five candidates running. Under a traditional application of the preferential ballot system, the candidate receiving the fewest first-choice votes would have been eliminated in the first round of ballot counting, then those votes would have been reattributed to the ballot's second-choice candidate.

During Sunday's meeting, the points were first awarded to each councillor's first choice of candidate, and then their second choice of candidate, effectively allowing each councillor to vote twice.

The ballots were recounted at 5 p.m. in the USC boardroom under the supervision of the candidates and/or their appointed scrutineers. 

Present were Emma Cumuric and Angus Lai from the elections committee who weren't involved with the initial vote, and Carina Gabriele (observing for Harry Orbach-Miller), Hirad Zafari (observing for Ella Wardlaw), Mackenzie McIntosh, Paul Scala and Imraan Mukri. Gazette editor-in-chief Hamza Tariq was also allowed in the room as an observer. 

The outgoing USC council voted to destroy the ballots used for the SPO election during Sunday's meeting.

To destroy the ballots, they are placed in a confidential box where they are later taken offsite to be shredded. As the SPO election happened Sunday afternoon, the box had not yet been taken offsite, so the ballots were still recoverable.

As the box also houses other confidential USC documents to be destroyed, Jeff Armour, USC chief operating officer, was present for the retrieval of the ballots, but left after they were recovered. Cumuric and Lai were responsible for the recount, while being observed by the six others present.

The election was further tainted after councillors complained that Landon Tulk, incoming USC vice-president, messaged councillors before the vote and asked them to vote for certain SPO candidates and outright requested they refrain from voting for Harry Orbach-Miller.

Candidate reactions

SPO candidate Mukri admitted he was happy that the election had reached its conclusion.

"I think we were all looking for closure after Sunday," he said."I got that closure about an hour ago, my feelings in general didn't change [from Sunday]. I know [McIntosh] put a lot of effort into his campaign and I absolutely do think that he's going to do a great job."

Paul Scala, another candidate for SPO, expressed his displeasure with the way the election was held.

"After hearing there was collusion on part of the incoming USC [executive], I really begin to question my faith in democracy as well as my trust in the USC."

He also raised concerns that the election's mishaps will make students think twice about engaging with the USC.

"It will ruin the relationship that the USC ought to have with students, and the problem is that no one holds the USC accountable," he said.

"Also adding the fact with problems of counting the ballots which is something the USC should know how to do and has been doing for some while," Scala added. "When you combine the two it just looks bad — I wouldn't be surprised if there is a vote of non-confidence."

Comments from the deputy returning officer (DRO) and other candidates will be updated online as they come in.  

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