Last Friday, referendum votes cast during the advanced polls were invalidated because the First Year Council (FYC) candidates appeared on ballots for all voting students.
“Sometimes the online voting system does not upload the details of an election properly,” said Nicole Gileadi, the Chief Electoral Officer of Elections McGill. “The problem was that non-first year students were able to vote in the First Year Council elections.”
Only first year students can vote to elect FYC executives – a body of six students who represent the interests of first year students on SSMU Council and encourages first year involvement on campus life.
“Since the SSMU ballot consisted of both the First Year Council election and the referendum questions, voting in both areas had to stop,” Gileadi said.
Approximately 40 students voted during the advanced polls. An email was sent out to all students informing them that their votes were invalidated and encouraging them to re-vote online.
“We encouraged students to re-vote but at the end of the day, it is each student’s individual choice whether or not he or she takes the time to do so,” explained Gileadi.
SSMU President Kay Turner did not consider the invalidation of advanced votes a setback in the SSMU referendum.
“The percentage of students who voted during the advanced polls was not large enough to have a significant impact on the overall results of the referendum,” said Turner. “However, I am confident that if these students were prompt enough to vote as soon as polls opened, they will surely be informed of the technical error via email and re-vote.”
According to Gileadi, Elections McGill has taken all the necessary precautions to prevent such a problem from occurring again, including uploading simple ballots to ensure against system overload.
“We have now separated the election and the referendum questions into two separate ballots, in case the problem arises again,” said Gileadi.
“We also immediately consulted with IT to prevent the reoccurrence of such a glitch.”
Turner remained confident that the referendum would reach quorum.
“We need 15 per cent of the student body to vote, in order to reach quorum. While it is generally more difficult to get students to vote in the Fall semester than in the Winter semester, we are confident that we will reach quorum.”
For the first time this year, students can vote on increases in ancillary fees – the University’s mandatory student fees separate from tuition – in the SSMU referendum. SSMU is also asking students to decide whether they want to renew the Undergraduate Student’s Fee – which funds bursaries, library improvements, and campus events. The Quebec Public Interest Research Group at McGill, which works on social and environmental issues, is asking students to support a 75-cent fee per semester and the Athletics Improvement Fund is proposing a $10 student contribution per semester. Online polls close today at 4 p.m.
You can vote for:
1) An increase in the McGill fee for online applications to undergraduate programs from $80 to $85 for applicants from out-of-province students and from $60 to $85 for those Quebec students.
2) A $10 increase per semester in the Students Services Fee, which will expand service in the Student Aid Office (SSAO), the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD), and in Student Health on both the Downtown and MacDonald Campuses.
3) Renewing the $19 per semester SSMU fee for the Access Bursary Fund, the library improvement fund, and the Campus Life Fund, which funds clubs, productions.
4) A 75-cent increase in QPIRG’s per semester fee to cover the costs of inflation so the group can continue sponsoring on and off-campus student groups like the Barrière Lake Solidarity Collective and Greening McGill.
5) A $10 per semester for the next five years fee that would complete the Athletics Complex and create more student space in Athletics.