USC Debate Frank Speech Landscape Shot (Photo)

Frank Ye of Team ForYe during the USC Media Debate, Jan. 23, 2019.

ForYe rejected an EGC statement that apologized for an error but upheld a $100 fine against the slate for pre-campaigning. 

Frank Ye and Jared Forman were fined $100 after the Elections and Governance Committee found two ForYe volunteers had liked a Gazette article about their candidacy before the campaign period had begun. A hearing on Monday led to the committee's Tuesday decision, but it was revealed ForYe did not have access to all of the evidence that an anonymous complainant had submitted against them. 

Shortly after the decision, the committee released an apology, though they announced their original decision would be upheld.

"We apologize for this error, and in an effort to ensure that the elections are fair and honest, we are publicly acknowledging and apologizing for our mistake," they said. 

ForYe campaign manager Rachel Park sharply criticized the committee for maintaining its verdict.

"We acknowledge the public apology by the CRO [Chief Returning Officer] and committee for making an error in following the bylaws that govern their own due process," she said. "However, when mistakes are made, they should be corrected, and the CRO and committee's unwillingness to revisit their decision is unacceptable."

ForYe has been granted an oral appeal, but Park said she invited the EGC to redo the hearing. 

The original complaint to the EGC likely provided a copy of information from within the slate's private Facebook page, though the committee did not comment Wednesday on whether they possessed this information. ForYe was not shown any such evidence in the hearing. 

Though the committee's statement says any undisclosed evidence did not "impact the substance of what was reviewed, nor the decision," Park argues they needed the evidence to meet the committee's standards; the EGC's decision stated that ForYe had not genuinely tried to dissociate from the offending volunteers. 

"By failing to provide the relevant evidence and details of the hearing to Team ForYe before the hearing took place, it became impossible for the slate to indicate the 'attempts to dissociate' that the EGC was looking for," she said. 

Park said she only knew the volunteers had pre-campaigned once the hearing was in session and removed them from the team immediately after. The committee cites the volunteers still being team members as of the hearing as part of their reasoning. 

Though ForYe was not notified which volunteers had pre-campaigned in the pre-hearing notice, chief returning officer Michelle Wang told the Gazette slates are responsible for knowing of violations on their own. 

The clash between committee and candidates comes in the first run at applying dramatically new campaign regulations that replaced the old demerit point system. Before, slates were given "points" up to a maximum, when they would be disqualified. Before disqualification, there was little punishment for breaking the rules.

The new system provides much greater punishment potential. ForYe was sanctioned with a minor violation, meaning they were fined $100, or one third of their total bond. If a slate reaches their bond value in fines, they are disqualified; in past elections, pre-campaigning would penalize candidates for a fraction of their maximum points.

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Martin is the Senior News Editor at the Gazette. You can contact him at martin.allen@westerngazette.ca, or @mtrallen on Twitter.

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