With advanced poling in the SSMU elections barely underway, presidential candidate Stefan Link has come under scrutiny for a number of illegal campaigning practices.
Elections McGill told Link that he had broken at least two bylaws by allowing his supporters to distribute handbills outside McLennan Library and write an endorsement on the pavement with chalk.
SSMU electoral by-laws forbid flyering outdoors, as well display of campaign materials outdoors.
Link maintains that he immediately consulted Elections McGill after being told by VP Clubs and Services Sarah Olle that giving out handbills outdoors was illegal.
“I spoke with the Elections McGill officers, in their office and they told me I was allowed to hand handbills outside, and so I continued,” said Link. “Then the other candidates kept harassing me — I think it was people from their campaign teams, I’m not sure which candidates — so I called the CEO [Chief Electoral Officer] and he told me to only do it inside, and I did, and he told me there wouldn’t be sanctions.”
Link attributed the confusion to “miscommunication between Elections McGill.”
Olle said Link’s violations were egregious and violated very basic campaigning rules.
“I think it’s clear that if he had read the bylaws even one time he would know that what he had been doing was forbidden,” Olle said.
Link maintains that he has read the bylaws, which are available on the Elections McGill web site.
“I’m trying to run a legitimate campaign,” he said.
Elections McGill’s CEO Mike Vallo said that Link been the most persistent violator of campaigning by-laws thus far. In addition to the unsanctioned handbills and chalk advertisement, he accused Link of violating posturing restrictions in a number of ways.
The posters tout the candidate as “The Missing Link.” They have been placed inside the security perimeters of the library, as well as outdoors. Elections McGill bylaws state that “Posters may only be affixed indoors,” and no posters may be placed “within the theft security perimeters of McGill libraries.”
In the early stages of the campaing, Link also put up a number of posters without the approval of Elections McGill. Elections McGill must stamp all posters before they are distributed.
Vallo also accused Link of placing numerous posters on top of the posters of other candidates, which is forbidden. Link denies this allegation.
“No, I didn’t do that. I have been very diligent,” Link said.
Vallo said that he has been frustrated by minor violations from many of the candidates thus far.
“We have had a lot of poster violations…. They’re not doing it maliciously, it’s just that they don’t know the bylaws.”