Photo: Jackie Hong

CRO: school interfered in RSU election

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By Jackie Hong 

A document from the Ryerson Students’ Union’s (RSU) special board meeting on March 2 to, among other things, ratify election results accuses the university of interfering with the election.

The university sent two letters to the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) and RSU executive with unspecified concerns about the election, beefed up security around polling stations and the room holding the ballot boxes without warning and appointed its own scrutineers, according to an election report written by CRO Fatima Sajan.

The university sent two letters to the CRO and RSU on Feb. 2, the report said. The first letter said the university had concerns about the elections and “stated the University may have ground [to] terminate its fee agreement with RSU[,] effectively threatening to withhold RSU’s membership fees.” The letter did not have specific details about the university’s concerns.

The second letter “[demanded] court appointed inspectors be placed at all poll stations.” The CRO rejected the demand “citing infringement on the elections” and offered to meet with the university instead.

On Feb. 10, the second day of voting, the report said that “without notice, the University placed uniformed security guards and unidentified plain clothed inspectors at every RSU poll station.” The CRO was concerned that the presence of security near stations, up to four in one location, “created an intimidating environment” for voters.

On Feb. 11, the third and final day of voting, the CRO “directed RSU legal counsel to meet with the University during the day to review the interference by them. RSU maintained that the actions taken by the University was viewed as interference.”

The same day, a lawyer for Ryerson Commerce Society President Ashisha Persaud sent the RSU a letter that “demanded the CRO suspend the elections and hold new elections due to unsubstantiated concerns about the RSU elections.” The Eyeopener previously reported that Persaud sent a petition signed by 1,000 student signatures to the university, the Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) and its chief returning officer (CRO) demanding an extended election period or a completely redone election.

“The CRO is concerned that the University may have provided this letter to the RCS for the purposes of interfering with the RSU elections,” the report said.

As well, the report said that when the ballot boxes were moved from SCC 202 to be counted, “a number of scrutineers [and] supporters of the Transform slate who constantly hovered near the ballot boxes, walking in the path of security, CRO and DRO making it very difficult to transport the ballots smoothly.”

The document also said the University, not the RSU, had a security guard at the front of SCC 202 and installed a security camera in the hallway. The Deputy Returning Officer previously told The Eyeopener that who monitored the feed from the camera was “not your concern” and that it “had no business” asking questions about election security.

Neither the CRO nor school administration responded to requests for comment.

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