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15 demerit points issued ahead of TMSU campaign period

By Anastasia Blosser

Eight election rulings were issued by the Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union’s (TMSU) Elections and Referenda Committee (ERC) and chief returning officer (CRO) ahead of the 2024 campaigning period.

The election’s campaigning period began on Feb. 28 and will culminate in three voting days from March 6 to 8. 

According to the students’ union’s Election Rulings webpage, as of March 3, 60 demerit points were issued to four candidates. However, three of the accused candidates—Hala Touma, Yumna Hussain and Hetu Patel—were later excused, reducing the penalties to a total of 15 demerit points against vice president student life candidate Ozi Molokwu. 

According to rulings CRO#004 and ERC#001, Molokwu was found guilty of pre-campaigning by announcing her candidacy on social media and encouraging students to message her privately ahead of the campaign period. 

According to CRO#004 and ERC#001, Molokwu later sent the CRO an email stating that she made an Instagram post—which could not be located by The Eyeopener—and provided additional evidence of any private conversations regarding her campaign. 

Pre-campaigning is a violation of section 8.1.1 of the Elections Procedures Code and would typically warrant 20 demerit points. After appeal however, the ERC decided to decrease the penalty to 15 demerit points due to Molokwu’s “proactive nature” and “perceived good faith,” as stated in ruling ERC#001.

Vice president education candidate Hala Touma was also found to be in violation of section 8.1.1 for pre-campaigning. According to rulings CRO#003 and ERC#003, Touma posted an Instagram story where she announced her candidacy, linked her nomination form and encouraged students to nominate her. 

According to ERC#003, Touma said in her appeal that the majority of her followers may not be TMU students and therefore, the impact of her actions was low. She also stated it was a choice for followers to click on her story and view the information. 

The ERC decided the post did not constitute pre-campaigning since the content being shared was only a nomination form and therefore was not an attempt to solicit votes for or against a candidate or slate. As a result, the ERC fully reversed the 20 demerit points initially awarded to Touma for the violation. 

According to rulings CRO#001 and ERC#004, vice president equity candidate Yumna Hussain was found guilty of unsolicited campaigning which is in violation of section 8.1.6 of the Elections Procedures Code. According to evidence presented by the CRO in ruling ERC#004, Hussain sent an unsolicited message to a WhatsApp group chat to share her nomination form. 

According to ERC#004, Hussain said in her appeal she thought she was allowed to share her nomination form in a class group chat and intended to email the CRO to confirm if the message violated the Elections Procedures Code.

Typically, unsolicited campaigning would warrant 10 demerit points according to section of the Elections Procedures Code. However, the ERC ruled the message was not a violation because no attempt was made to solicit votes for or against a candidate or slate. As a result, no demerit points were handed out.

According to rulings CRO#002 and ERC#002, vice-president education candidate Hetu Patel was also accused of unsolicited campaigning after another individual sent her nomination form to a group chat. According to ruling ERC#002, she stated in her appeal that she did not personally share the nomination form in any group chats. 

The ERC decided the message was not a violation of the Elections Procedures Code because no attempt was made to solicit votes for or against a candidate or slate. As a result, the initial 10 demerit points were reversed.

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