On March 27, unsuccessful Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) VP Internal candidate Johanna Nikoletos submitted a petition to the SSMU Judicial Board (J-Board) against Elections SSMU, claiming that it failed to “uphold the electoral bylaws and ensure a fair election,” according to an email from Nikoletos.
The petition was filed the day after Elections SSMU Chief Electoral Officer Rachelle Bastarache announced that an electoral review committee had met to discuss allegations of infractions committed by VP Internal-elect Lola Baraldi. The committee “found that there was insufficient grounds to invalidate the election,” Bastarache wrote in her email to the press.
In a report sent by email to the student body on March 27, Bastarache informed students that while the election had not been invalidated, Baraldi’s campaign expenses would not be reimbursed, and that the email constituted a public censure.
Nikoletos will be appealing the decision of Elections SSMU to J-Board. “We will be asking the Judicial Board to either invalidate the election and call for a re-vote, or to disqualify Lola entirely for the extent of her actions,” Nikoletos told The Daily in an email.
“I am filing this petition to fight for my right to a fair elections process in this endeavour,” she wrote.
“I am filing this petition to fight for my right to a fair elections process in this endeavour.”
The alleged infractions that Nikoletos highlighted centre around events that occurred at New Residence Hall. On March 14, Baraldi was at Lou Lou’s, a cafe located in the lobby of New Residence, helping her friend Louise Smith, who works there. Nikoletos noted that a campaign poster of Baraldi’s had been set out on the counter, and alleged that this was an infraction of campaigning guidelines, which forbid campaigning within cafeterias.
In its report, Elections SSMU stated that it did not consider the New Residence cafe to be a cafeteria.
In an email to The Daily, Baraldi said that the poster was placed on the counter of the kiosk by an employee, and that she took it down as soon as she noticed it.
In addition, Nikoletos claimed that the fact that Baraldi was seen giving out free food would constitute an infraction, especially since she was in the presence of one of her campaign posters. She also asserted that the fact that Smith was reportedly campaigning for Baraldi, telling people who came up to her kiosk to vote for Lola, is also not allowed by the electoral bylaws because Smith is not a SSMU member, nor a member of Baraldi’s campaign team.
Baraldi noted that she did give out several free cookies, but only “when instructed to by the worker, and with no reference or correlations to me or my campaign.” Baraldi also claimed that she did not know that Smith had been telling students to vote for Baraldi, and asked Smith to stop as soon as she became aware.
According to the report released by Elections SSMU, Baraldi was indeed in violation of article 3.3 of the regulations for campaigning in residences (incorrectly identified in the report as a bylaw) by allowing her poster to be on the counter for around three hours. Smith was also in violation of article 14.5 of By-law Book I by placing the poster there. According to the report, “testimony reveals that around 12 p.m., Lola overheard Louise telling people to vote for her and intervened directly, and at this time she also took the poster down.”
The committee also concluded that Baraldi was not promoting her campaign in giving away the “one or two” food items that she did.
Nikoletos further alleged that New Residence floor fellows “were using their influence and access to first-year students in order to garner votes for Baraldi.”
Baraldi denied that she was actively campaigning in the New Residence lobby or using floor fellows to campaign for her, saying that while two floor fellows were on her campaign team, they did not campaign in residence.
The report from Elections SSMU contained no reference to the claim that Baraldi had had floor fellows campaigning for her in New Residence Hall.
“I am fully confident that it was a clean campaign and the allegations held against me more than anything result from a frustration with the close margin of votes,” said Baraldi.