By Jeremy Lin
The results of this year’s presidential election were announced last Wednesday Feb. 8 but for presidential candidate, Suraj Singh, the votes would not count. He confirmed prior to the final polling that he had been disqualified from the 2012 RSU election.
This is the third time in as many years that a candidate has been disqualified. Singh, who was running on behalf of the Eyeopener, was disqualified and fined $50 for breaching two election bylaws that he didn’t know he had broken.
“I was shocked at first,” he said. “I was kind of just sitting there trying to figure out what I could have been disqualified for.”
According to Daniel Lo, the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) in the election, the first bylaw Singh breached was publishing unapproved election material. This charge stemmed from a publication of a photo in the Eyeopener of Singh holding a promotional poster over his crotch.
“The week before that photo ran I was on the cover of the Eyeopener without pants,” said Singh. “They didn’t have a problem with that so I’m not sure why this one photo was different.”
It was also alleged that because there were ads supporting Singh published in the Eyeopener, he had exceeded the candidate’s $300 campaign budget. Singh says that he never paid for the ads and that they were part of the paper’s editorial content.
This trend of disqualifications leaves a sour taste in the mouth of third-year RTA student, Brad Hutchison.
“[What Singh did] doesn’t strike me as a particularly terrible offense,” he said. “I like to see someone actually run against Students Union but what’s the point when they just get disqualified every year?”
Singh said that his disqualification showed a lack of priorities.
“This is the third year in a row it has happened,” he said. “Maybe the fact I was there was a little threatening and they were looking for a way to get me out of the race. Whatever the reason, if I had blatantly disrespected the rules then sure disqualify me but to constantly scrutinize technicalities seems a little strange.”
Lo is adamant that he is just doing his job to ensure the elections are run fairly.
“I merely follow the rules,” he said. “I interpret and apply the rules accordingly. Candidates need to understand the by-laws and guidelines and when in doubt contact the CRO for clarification.”
After submitting a formal appeal with the CRO, Singh was still disqualified from the election, but his $50 fine was reversed