The first official complaint — alleging Clean Slate candidates of pre-campaigning — has been filed in the UMSU 2011 elections. According to chief returning officer (CRO) Jason van Rooy, there was insufficient evidence to prove a breech of election bylaws had occurred.
Instead, van Rooy said he issued a blanket warning to all candidates in this year’s election.
“I issued a warning to all candidates to be aware of all of the rules, be aware of the campaign period, pre-campaigning [and] know what you’re suppose to be avoiding.”
The complaint, filed on Feb. 14 by Navita Cheba, campaign manager for Working Together, alleged that members of Clean Slate were pre-campaigning and asking students to “vote for them when polls open.”
According to van Rooy’s official ruling on the complaint, “pre-campaigning is a very serious violation of the UMSU bylaws, supplementary rules and the spirit of a fair and equitable election.”
“It’s really about fairness and equity,” said van Rooy in an interview with the Manitoban. “Everyone should start at the same time — then you have equal opportunity to reach all of students.”
“If they’re maliciously pre-campaigning or out there vigilantly trying to get support before the campaign period, then they would be assessed a penalty.”
The complaint also questioned whether signatures for multiple people could be solicited through one person, which van Rooy said is not against the bylaws.
“However, because they’re acting as volunteers, if there is any malfeasance then everyone involved is responsible.”
Jeremiah Kopp, campaign manager for Clean Slate, said he was pleased the “CRO dismissed [the issue] in a timely manner” and felt there were zero grounds for the complaint.
“There were several issues with [the complaint], the largest one being that the person who made the complaint made a mistake in who they were complaining about. They mistook one slate member for another,” said Kopp.
Van Rooy determined that Cheba mistook Clean Slate’s vice-presidential (external) candidate Ian Literovich for Clean Slate presidential candidate Tyler Omichinski.
Kopp said that while there will be complaints from slates against one another, he felt this complaint seem “rushed and inappropriate.”
Camilla Tapp, presidential candidate for Working Together, said she felt the complaint was “dealt with fairly” and that report provided was extensive and complete.
Van Rooy said that any member of the union can file a complaint, either in person or by e-mail. If he feels there are any grounds to proceed with the complaint, the complaint process will begin.
Once the complaint is received, it is sent out to all of the parties involved in the complaint within two hours. The accused then have until 9 a.m. the following day to issue a response to the complaint.
“I have 24 hours to make a ruling [ . . . ] and then I have to post the ruling for 24 hours outside of my office. As soon as the ruling is completed, it needs to be sent to everyone and they have 48 hours to file for an appeal,” said van Rooy.
Van Rooy said that a candidate’s first breech in bylaws or supplementary rules results in a 25 per cent reduction in campaign budget; the second breech would result in another 25 per cent reduction. A third breech will result in disqualification.
“If it’s later in the campaign and [a] reduction causes you to go over budget, then you are immediately disqualified because going over the budget, according to the bylaws, is immediate disqualification.”
Van Rooy said that he has an open-door policy and encourages candidates to seek clarification if they don’t understand something in the bylaws.
“They’re encouraged to ask me before they make any decisions if they’re unsure so that way they don’t accidentally do anything wrong and have to do deal with a complaint about something they didn’t realize was a breech of the rules.”
The Manitoban attempted to contacted Cheba, but she was unavailable for comment at press time.