Update: SGPS Judicial Committee explains nullification of presidential elections in statement

St. Lawrence College Certificate Program

Queen's Certificate in Law

On Feb. 8, SGPS President Adam Grotsky criticized the society’s Judicial Committee for their lack of transparency in a decision to nullify their presidential elections, which had taken place on Jan. 29 and 30. He called for the committee to release an explanation for their decision and on Feb. 9, they responded.

In the statement, the committee wrote that the initial confidentiality surrounding the nullification came from an obligation to “protect those involved.”

“We withheld these details to protect the candidates, not to purposely withhold important information and details from our membership,” the statement read. “Upon hearing from our members, we recognize the need for greater transparency. 

According to the committee, a self-disclosed violation of election rules occurred when a candidate revealed they’d overspent their allotted campaign budget. 

“Following an exhaustive investigation during the voting days, the CRO [Chief Returning Officer] instituted a penalty in the form of a fine, following the announcement of the election results,” the statement continued. “This decision was appealed, within the allotted week following the election.”

The committee explained that they carefully considered the appeal brought to them, taking more than double the allotted time given to deliberate on the matter.

“To the Committee’s knowledge, this is a first in SGPS history with no precedent to follow,” the statement read.

After deliberation, the committee determined the fine that was initially granted wasn’t considered a large enough penalty.

“Our rationale behind this decision is to set the precedent to prevent candidates who violate the spending allotment to feel that they may do this in the future and be elected to office, which comes with a substantial salary,” the statement read.

However, the committee couldn’t prove grounds for disqualification, as that would’ve required an indication that one candidate had an unfair advantage over the other 

“The Committee was unable to assess if the spending violation provided an advantage in the election,” the statement read.

Following this reasoning, the committee determined the “best opportunity for candidates to have a contested election” then would be to nullify the results and allow SGPS councillors to appoint a candidate. However, the committee acknowledged gaps in “the election process, the responsibilities of the election team and the appeal process” that made their decision more difficult.

“Without a policy framework or precedent, the Committee was forced to look at the current bylaws and determine the most appropriate resolution to the above issue,” the statement read. “We are asking the Bylaw and Policy Committee to meet and rectify these gaps and present amendments at the March Council meeting.”

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