By Racy Rafique and Gabriela Silva Ponte
This is a developing story. This story will be updated with comment from CRO Adrian Aziz, the Elections and Referenda Committee and Team Revolt.
All members of Team Revolt have been disqualified from the Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) elections, according to a statement from the Elections and Referenda Committee (ERC).
Vice president operations-elect Mahira Shoaib, vice president education-elect Abeeha Ahmad, vice president equity-elect Trevohn Baker and vice president student life-elect Kareena Bhatia, have been disqualified, according to the statement.
The slate received 60 demerit points for violating four election bylaws—accessing a member’s voting portal on their behalf, campaigning to students while they are voting, misrepresentation of fact and unauthorized campaigning—on multiple instances.
Section 126.96.36.199 of the Elections Procedures Code states that accruing more than 35 demerit points as an executive candidate “will result in an automatic disqualification.”
The statement, posted to the TMSU’s website Monday, said the TMSU Elections and Referenda Committee spent the last three days auditing and reviewing the election operations, complaints, appeals and results.
“Due to the unprecedented number of submissions, the Committee has made a number of decisions related to the conduct of candidates and campaigners during the Election,” the statement reads.
The committee said its decisions have resulted in issuing demerit points to multiple candidates, which has impacted the final outcome of the 2023-24 election.
Candidates have 48 hours to appeal the decisions of the committee, according to the statement.
Elections violations resulting in demerit points
As previously reported by The Eyeopener, Team Revolt received 25 demerit points on March 22 for accessing a student’s voting portal on their behalf. This violated section 188.8.131.52 of the TMSU’s Elections Procedures Code which states that accessing member’s voting portals on their behalf is a campaign violation punishable by the receiving of up to 25 demerit points.
This was appealed by Team Revolt on March 24, according to a ruling posted to the TMSU website. The ERC reviewed the appeal on March 26 and reassessed the initial ruling, issuing six additional demerit points, totalling 31 demerit points.
In the same ruling, Team Revolt also received two demerit points for campaigning to students while they were voting and four demerit points for misrepresentation of fact—which are both violations under section 184.108.40.206 of the Elections Procedures Code.
Team Revolt received an additional 17 demerit points for video footage “that shows a person accessing a students’ laptop and telling them to vote for members on Team Revolt,” according to a March 26 ruling posted to the TMSU website.
The video, which was submitted by another candidate, violated section 220.127.116.11 of the Elections Procedures Code twice—for accessing a member’s voting portal on their behalf and campaigning to students while they are voting.
The slate was given the maximum of 15 demerit points for accessing a student’s laptop and only two demerit points out of 15 for campaigning to students while they were voting.
The ERC said the individuals in the video presented appeared in multiple other video complaints submitted to them. “Therefore more weight is given to the issue of “accessing members voting portals,” the committee said in the ruling.
Team Revolt was issued an additional 10 demerit points for allegedly trying to engage students to vote for the slate.
According to the ruling dated March 26, video evidence of “two individuals engaging students to vote for Team Revolt” was submitted by two candidates on March 24.
“The ERC has ruled that while the audio is unclear these individuals have been identified previously as [through] other videos, audibly campaigning for Team Revolt,” said the ruling.
Section 18.104.22.168 of the Elections Procedures Code states that candidates can receive up to 15 demerit points for unauthorized campaigners. According to section 8.1.41 of the code, “only Members of the TMSU, with the exception of the ERC, may engage in Campaigning.”
Team Revolt was issued five demerit points per unauthorized campaigner, for a total of 10 points.
On top of the accrued 58 demerit points, Team Revolt received two demerit points for another incident involving accessing a member’s voting portal on their behalf.
According to the ruling, multiple students reported that they witnessed a person approaching students in Yonge-Dundas Square and asking them if they had voted. If they did not vote, the person showed the students how to vote for Team Revolt.
“There is a reduction in demerit points issued because it took 3 witnesses to validate that the misconduct occurred,” said the ruling.
One complainant submitted a photo and video where the people were not touching the students’ devices. A second complainant submitted a testimonial outlining the misconduct.
“The person in question was also observed by a member of the ERC in the same location campaigning for team Revolt and helping people vote,” the ruling reads.
In its statement, the ERC said it is tasked with ensuring elections are conducted with fairness, respect and integrity.
“We are continuing to investigate a number of irregularities and violations made throughout the elections and will be producing a report with details and next steps shortly,” said the ERC in their statement.
The voting period took place from March 21 to March 24 and the results were announced on the TMSU website at 6:28 p.m. on March 24.
As previously reported by The Eye, Marina Gerges was not re-elected for a second term as president of the Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) for the 2023-24 academic year.
Gerges needed over 50 per cent or greater number of the votes cast as “yes” to be elected.
All executive positions on the TMSU are now vacant. Section 9.2.2 of the Elections Procedures Code states that if an executive candidate is not elected, the seat will be vacant pending appointment or byelection.