Elections Team alters AMS Exec campaign rules

Society president endorsements, alumni campaigning and web domains explained

Team JBP address campaign violations and the registration date of their website. 
Photo: 

Six days into the AMS Executive races, the Elections Team has received approximately 15 complaints from both teams, with about half meriting “substantial” responsive action. 

On Tuesday, Secretariat Miguel Martinez, Chief Returning Officer Rebecca Warrian and Chief Electoral Officer Michael Poirier sat down with The Journal to discuss the campaign period. 

While the exact violations and sanctions are confidential, Martinez and Warrian discussed some of the concerns that have arisen from the teams in the running. Firstly, faculty society presidents — formerly barred from openly endorsing or campaigning for Executive teams — have been allowed to do both this year. 

Nursing Science Society President Alexandra Palmeri and Commerce Society President Bhavik Vyas were among student leaders that’ve endorsed candidates freely on social media, alongside their official titles. 

“That was more of a legal issue,” Martinez said. “When you look at the law, under freedom of association, people are allowed to associate themselves with whatever they really want.” 

After meeting with the AMS Judicial Committee, a ruling was made to allow faculty society presidents and other student leaders to endorse teams, provided it isn’t done in their official capacity or linked to their official role. 

When situations like Palmeri’s and Vyas’ came to their attention, where their titles were listed directly below photos declaring their support, the elections team stepped in and offered a choice. 

“If you want to keep the cover photo up, please remove in your bio what your role is, or vice versa,” was the message from Warrian. Martinez acknowledged that concerns came alongside the alteration in ruling, including that when the teams spoke at faculty assemblies, they’d feel a bias. 

“Our hope is that they remain as impartial as possible,” he said. “We can’t really have too much say in the way they run their Assemblies ... so we asked that any questions asked are asked at both groups rather than just one at a time.” 

A procedural change was also made to the allocation of boothing space. A coin flip determined which team was able to choose all their spots first, versus a back-and-forth system. Executive teams went one by one, followed by Trustee candidate Victoria Chappell, any groups on the referendum, and faculty societies. 

“There were no issues whatsoever,” Warrian said, noting that there was ample space for both teams. However, Team MTW Campaign Manager Emmy Vassos countered Warrian’s statement, saying that their team wasn’t “100 per cent thrilled” with the outcome, as the second to choose.

“Some of the spaces we had initially hoped for we didn’t get, because JBP had already got them without us in the room,” Vassos said. 

Another point of contention in this year’s campaign period has been the emergence of a familiar face. Troy Sherman, an AMS alumnus as former Student Centre Officer, returned to campus to campaign for Team JBP at their booths until the Elections Team sent a warning to both teams. 

“Without getting too much into specifics, there’s actually nothing in policy that would restrict non-AMS members participating in the campaign boothing,” Martinez said. 

However, after a ruling was made by Poirier on Jan. 21 based on a section of policy for referenda — which “strongly discouraged” non-AMS member involvement — those members have been formally restricted from campaigning at booths, though they can participate behind the scenes. 

“As of the time of that ruling, Troy Sherman no longer performed public functions of the campaign in compliance with the CEO ruling and no complaints have been formally made against Team JBP for non-compliance,” JBP Campaign Manager Andrew DiCapua told The Journal. 

“To be clear, this ruling was made for both teams,” he added. “We hope the Elections Team brings forward recommendations on this point as AMS Executive election policy is currently silent on the matter.”

DiCapua also answered on behalf of JBP when The Journal inquired why — when a previous interview with Martinez revealed the election team’s belief that JBP wasn’t assembled until after a Dec. 1 Assembly, where policy was altered in Lockridge’s favour — a reverse domain search revealed their ‘Vote JBP’ site was registered on Nov. 28. 

“Purchasing a domain preemptively is standard for AMS campaigns,” DiCapua said, recalling an incident in 2014 when Team WRL’s domain was poached and replaced with a GIF of Rob Ford. 

“Palmer preemptively bought the domain after speaking to Jenn and Brian who were already considering to run for AMS Executive.”

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