Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Voting irregularities?

The UBC Student Media blog is reporting that there were people going around Place Vanier last night distributing cookies, carrying a laptop, and asking people to vote for a particular candidate for VP Academic. This is the first I've heard of the matter, and while plausible, I would like to hear more confirmations of the occurrence. It would seem to be a rather silly thing to do, seeing as it's in direct violation of campaign rules, meaning that the candidate would have much more to lose than to gain, particularly when that candidate's chances are pretty good as it is. So what are the possibilities?

1.) This actually happened, and it was intentional. In this case, we could probably expect the EA to not accept the results of the election for this particular race, and to hold another election for the position.

2.) This happened, and someone not involved with the campaign was going around doing this. In the past (and not even in the AMS), candidates have been punished for rules that have been broken by others. I know this is a possibility in SUS, so I would presume that the same can go for the AMS.

3.) This incident didn't actually occur, or it may be possible that people were simply trying to get others to vote, or whatnot- I'm sure there are lots of reasonable explanations.

4.) The incident didn't occur and people are attempting to frame a candidate in a bad light. This would be pretty bad form, and would only serve to make students dislike the AMS and further be discouraged from voting.

I'd definitely like to hear from others on the matter. So far the EA hasn't commented on the incident, although I would presume that it would be under investigation. I would ask some serious questions in general about this campaign rule, however. Candidates aren't supposed to pressure others into voting for them, but I'd ask what constitutes pressure. Yes, people can always say no, but lots of types of campaigning can constitute "pressure". It's not uncommon to see candidates approach people with laptops, for instance, and give them flyers with voting information, and to ask for their support. Candidates will often just go up to people and ask for their vote. They may get their friends to do the same. I'm not sure how convinced I am by the notion that in this situation, people would feel more pressured to vote for a candidate than in some of the other allowed scenarios. I'm not in support of candidates going up to people with laptops and asking for their vote right then and there simply because I see it as bad form and a sort of desperate tactic- I personally wouldn't feel pressure. But then I'm not most people, so I can see how the argument would apply.

The other question, though, is what happens if the candidate wasn't involved in planning this and didn't know about it? It's perfectly plausible that someone wanted to help them out, and didn't know the election rules. Candidates can't be held fully responsible for the actions of their friends/supporters, and even if they say something, you can't necessarily stop people from doing what they choose. If this was the case, then would it be fair to punish the candidate or to hold another election?

We'll see how this develops. Please comment if you witnessed the event taking place.