Frequent complaints and ways SUO candidates get disqualified.

Photo from UBCSUO's Facebook page.
Photo from UBCSUO's Facebook page.

It’s elections season. Beginning Monday, March 4, candidates for Student Union Executives, Board of Directors, and Faculty Representatives were allowed to begin campaigning. This year, 26 people have committed to running for an elected position. While still a large number of people, it is down from last years number, which clocked in at 44, according to the Chief Returning Officer’s (CRO) official report filed in 2018.

In the history of UBCO elections, there have been a few notable instances of disqualification. From advertising inside of the Well (SUO businesses and logos are not allowed in promotional content) to foraging receipts (there is a price cap on election spending), candidates have found creative ways to get disqualified.

In the election three years ago, there was an instance of a tie between the candidates running for president. There were allegations that one candidate’s name was not present on all of the ballots, creating an unfair advantage the other. As this was before web-voting, a make-up election had to be held for the position of the president.

Due to the changing nature of social media advertising, some changes have had to be made to the regulations regarding the campaigning process. In the 2018 election, the CRO Daniel Kandie allowed for Snapchat filters to be present in the Well and other SUO businesses, as snapchat filters bleed into geographic locations, whether or not they are selected in the creation process.

However, even with this leniency, there were still 14 formal complaints filed last year against candidates. None of these complaints resulted in disqualification, but each had to be investigated by the CRO. These complaints ranged from the accusation of candidates using defamatory language against other candidates, providing money in exchange for votes, overspending on campaign materials, and plagiarizing other candidates campaign posts. Some of these complaints were found to be valid and resulted in a suspension from campaigning, and others were dismissed.

Some of these complaints and suspensions resulted from clear ignorance of the bylaws which govern the elections, while others could have been examples of candidates attempting to disqualify other candidates, or getting caught in nefarious dealings. In short, the more informed the candidate is on proper campaigning etiquette (try not to remove other people’s posters—that is also against the rules), the more informed their volunteers are (candidates are responsible for the actions of their volunteers), the less likely it is that they will get disqualified.

This year, in a change from previous years, the spending budget for the candidates has been reduced from $150 to $75, and only 20 posters will be provided for candidates. After the election is held and the results are announced, all of the complaints filed in this election will be available for the public on the SUO website.