Results questioned

Online voting problems plague SGPS elections

Sean Field and Kevin Wiener at the SGPS debate on March 18.
Sean Field and Kevin Wiener at the SGPS debate on March 18.

Kevin Wiener has been elected the new president of the Queen’s Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS), but the election results are now in question due to an online voting malfunction.

Wiener, a second-year law student, and Sean Field, a PhD candidate in the department of geography, both ran for society President.

There were 724 students who voted in the election, approximately 18 per cent of the SGPS membership. Wiener won by a margin of six votes: he received 287 votes while Field received 281.

According to Field, several students couldn’t get online to vote in the election, including himself.

“It didn’t recognize me as a graduate student. I contacted the SGPS, and they fixed it for me, but I understand that there were several other students who couldn’t vote either,” he said.

Field said he isn’t sure how many other students could have been affected.

“At this point I don’t intend on contesting unless it’s found that a significant number of students were not able to vote online, as there was indications that that might be true.”

Laura Levick, the SGPS’s chief returning officer, said the society received 15 requests for assistance in opening the electronic voting page.

“While I can’t comment on individual circumstances for privacy reasons, the most common complications appear to have involved students with multiple NetIDs and those who were experiencing other issues with the Registrar’s office that resulted in difficulties logging into Moodle,” she told the Journal via email.

Levick said the SGPS posted a notice on their website instructing students experiencing difficulty to contact Sean Richards, SGPS executive director, and Richards solved the problem for all who asked for help.

“At this time, I have not heard from any student who was prevented from voting as a result of technical complications,” she said. “Turnout in the election was significantly higher than last year.”

Turnout last year was approximately eight per cent.

Despite his misgivings about the online voting, Field said he feels positive about the election.

“I’m glad people got out and voted,” Field said.

Wiener said he was “elated” that he won the election.

“Tonight we celebrate and tomorrow we’ll get down to work,” he said.

Wiener ran with the four-member Renew SGPS team on a platform of greater student engagement with the SGPS.

Wiener, Tyrel Taylor, Patrick Gajos and Thompson Hamilton made up the team. All four members are students in the Faculty of Law.

Taylor, who ran for Vice President (Campaigns and Community Affairs), was the only Renew SGPS candidate who wasn’t elected to an executive position. History PhD candidate Lorne Beswick won with 256 votes over Taylor’s 246.

James MacLeod was elected as SGPS representative to the Board of Trustees. MacLeod received 302 votes while opponent Mark Syer received 81.

Eric Rapos was elected Graduate Senator in a close race with Stephen Smith.

Rapos received 236 votes and won by 17.

Gajos and Dinah Jansen both ran uncontested and were elected as Vice President (Finance and Services) and Vice President (Graduate), respectively.

Hamilton was voted Vice President (Professional) with 319 votes. Opponent Jason Paquette received 185 votes.

Wiener said he’s looking forward to working with his executive counterparts.

“I look forward to working with Dinah [Jansen] and with Lorne about ensuring that the SGPS can carry out both the promises we put forward as well as their priorities,” he said.



March 28, 2014

This article has been updated to reflect the following: Eric Rapos won Graduate Senator by 17 votes, not 27 votes.

The Journal regrets the error.

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