News  Elections McGill staff resigns

Electoral office chastises SSMU for public bickering

All four staff members of Elections McGill simultaneously resigned after announcing the official results of the SSMU elections to Council last Thursday, making this the second time in three years that the body has walked off the job.

The Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Nicole Gileadi, presented her report, chastised Council for its March 5 censure of SSMU’s independent electoral agency, and then resigned to Council’s surprise.

“Elections McGill is hereby tendering its resignation immediately,” announced Gileadi as she handed over the office keys and computer passwords, and left the room immediately.

The March 5 censure stated that Elections failed to sufficiently meet SSMU standards on bilingualism, that they undertook insufficient promotional activities, printed inaccurate materials, were inaccessible to election candidates and referendum committee members.

“I think [the censure] was unfortunate. Council had some legitimate concerns, but they went about it the wrong way, and they compromised the way we functioned,” said Gileadi later. “Very counterproductive, very unprofessional.”

According to Gileadi, Elections McGill often takes the brunt of complaints for a phenomenon that they have trouble controlling.

“Elections McGill is a very easy scapegoat for student apathy,” Gileadi said. “I am proud of the way that we conducted ourselves.”

SSMU councillors, who had questions prepared for the CEO, took a few minutes to regain their composure and were then required to formally adopt the election results.

Councillors then decided to remove the strengths Elections McGill had included in their report analysis.

“Can we remove a section [immaterial to the results], like, say, ‘Significant Achievements’?” Law Senator Alexandre Shee asked the Speaker, to much laughter from other councillors.

Hours later, Council passed a motion partially aimed at reconciliation, mandating the SSMU Executive to release a statement saying that they “regret to have contributed to the deterioration of the relationship between SSMU and Elections McGill” but “continue to stand by our criticisms of Elections McGill that led to our censure, and do not support their resignation.”

Councillors had considered not accepting the Elections McGill staff’s resignation, and encouraged them to come back and talk to them.

Gileadi said she would be willing to talk to Council if they had any professional questions.

“If there are concerns about the electoral period itself, I’d be happy to talk about it with them,” said Gileadi. “It felt a little strange to stick around [after resigning].”

The bylaws were also a problem, Gileadi said, who believed that they needed updating in order to actually be enforced.

“The bylaws are in certain cases very difficult, especially with the Internet,” she said. “It’s very difficult to apply bylaws that were written in a different time for the ‘modern era’.”

Two years ago, Elections McGill CEO Bryan Badali and his staff resigned when the Judicial Board overturned the extremely close presidential election because Badali had not, according to the Board, publicly reprimanded one candidate when his opponent’s campaign posters were torn down. Badali called the decision a travesty.

– with files from Nicholas Smith