Friday, February 6, 2009

Breaking: Blake disqualified from Presidential Race

I have just received the following news:

On Tuesday February 3 around midnight the Elections Committee was given a formal appeal supported by video evidence implicating Blake Frederick and two other candidates as exhibiting "slate" behaviour.

As per Section 9, Article 2(11) in the Code of Procedures, it states that:

"Candidates shall not run in slates, real or apparent, or share expenses for campaign materials, excluding minor supplies as defined in 10(e) of this article. A slate shall mean a group of candidates who run for elected office (including but not limited to Executive positions and positions in the Senate and on the Board of Governors) on a similar platform for mutual advantage."

At the time when the Elections Committee received this allegation, we were already investigating and following up with concerns over false statements Blake provided the committee in regards to allegations towards another candidate.

Furthermore, this morning the Elections Committee received another allegation of slate behaviour.

Recognizing that he campaigned, postered and participated in classroom announcements together with a group of individuals who run a very similar platform, the Elections Committee has ruled that he ran the campaign as part of a slate.

Recalling that slates have been banned by the AMS of UBC due to the advantageous nature of running in a slate, the Elections Committee believes that he was provided an unfair advantage in the elections.

Recognizing that code stipulates "Candidates shall not run in slates, real or apparent.."

The Elections Committee has ruled that we must disqualify Blake Frederick from the Presidential race. We cannot entertain the prospect of re-doing the Elections, as the rules were infringed upon only by one candidate, and thus requiring all candidates to re-run the race would be unfair.

First of all, the email was sent off of Sarina's personal gmail account rather than the AMS Elections account; the email about cookie-gate was sent from this account as well, however. Secondly, Blake talked to her today, and she mentioned nothing about the matter to him. I find this a little strange, and would think that as the elections administrator, she would let him know of this prior to letting the media know. I spoke briefly with Blake, and he told me that the email was the first that he'd heard of the story.

To be honest, I'm kind of shocked. While there were murmurings of a slate of a different sort, I certainly didn't hear about anything of an actual slate. I'm also wondering if it actually means anything if people were running a slate that was "secret", that wasn't advertised, that no one knew about, etc. Yes, I did see candidates come to certain classes together to advertise the elections and talk about their bids- but these speeches were totally separate from one another, and even if they touched on similar issues (things like the Farm), they were issues that were important to the platforms of several candidates.

What I can tell you now, though, from what I personally saw during the elections:
Tristan Markle and Ale Coates came into my physiology 301 class (503 students) and talked about elections there. I know that they also visited a lot of others classes.

Blake Frederick and Tristan Markle came into my psycholgoy 308 class (about 150 students) and both did a spiel on their platforms. The only overlapping points I heard were on the issue of the UBC Farm. I know this is an issue that's important to both candidates, so I'm not sure it constitutes a slate.

I'm a little bit skeptical of this news. From my understanding, if slates are effective, they would only be effective if people actually knew about them and if candidates were telling students that they were either a.) running as a slate or b.) telling students who to vote for. From my knowledge, this did not happen during the election. If this decision stands, I feel a student court appeal coming on. And we all know how much fun those are...

I also find it hard to believe that all the VFMs, all the AMS hacks, and all the people interested in student politics managed to not see this 'slate' while one student did. I'd be very interested to know what the evidence for the slate is- I'd love to see the tape, for instance. Hopefully details will be released soon.

Additional information (from commentary on the Spectator blog):

Blake Frederick, Tristan Markle, and Ale Coates were passing out flyers at the same time at the bus loop, as were Tim, Crystal, and Johannes.

Sarina gave people permission to do classroom announcements together at the all candidates meeting.

Three of the candidates campaigned to the Greek community on the same night.

The question, I think, is where you draw the line of "slate". Even if there were 3 candidates who did things together all the time, it could just mean that they're friends, and not that they're running some sort of slate. I think it's more than possible to have people who may have worked together all year, or in close proximity, who may bounce ideas off of each other, or who may decide to go and make announcements together. I don't think this necessitates a slate. Similarly, if the comments on this videotape were along the lines of "wouldn't it be awesome if the ___ of us were elected", it doesn't say anything about those candidates being in a slate- just that these candidates were friends and may have supported each other in private. A slate, from what I understand, must be a public matter, and must be publicized in order to be effective. Candidates must endorse one another and talk about voting people in as a team or whatnot. Otherwise, I feel like unless there's more concrete evidence that is released, this entire thing doesn't really hold water. As I've said before, even if comments were made in private about there being a slate, if it didn't affect election results, and if no one detected it, it doesn't really make a difference.