After being disqualified from the Vice-President (Operations and Finance) race by the Students’ Union Chief Returning Officer (CRO) for the second time on Thursday, Samer Sleiman said he will not appeal the decision and has conceded the race.
“I just want to make sure you all know that I am not appealing the CRO’s decision, despite not agreeing with some claims written in Ruling #7,” Sleiman said in a public statement posted to Facebook on Thursday.
CRO Jessica Nguyen twice disqualified Sleiman for “tampering with ballots, voting procedures, or counting procedures.”
In the CRO’s latest ruling, 10 students have testified that Sleiman and certain members of his election team “compromised ballots” during the campaign period.
Sleiman was disqualified for the first time on March 6 after Anna Gwozdz approached the CRO alleging Sleiman collected her CCID on March 5 and used it to vote in her favour. Several more students testified similar experiences involving Sleiman after the CRO launched an investigation into the allegations.
On March 8, the CRO came in possession of new evidence against Sleiman, and was instructed by the DIE Board Registrar to bring the evidence to the hearing or attach it to the application. Due to “a small window of time to prepare the documents,” the CRO was barred from presenting the new evidence to the DIE Board at the March 9 hearing because it was deemed not part of the original ruling.
The DIE Board overturned the CRO’s original ruling on March 11, disqualifying Sleiman due to insufficient evidence that he had intended to tamper a student’s vote after not finding Gwozdz’s or Sleiman’s recollection of events “sufficiently persuasive.”
After Sleiman was reinstated, Nguyen was told by the DIE Board to announce the results of the VP (Operations and Finance) race within 24 hours.
Nguyen’s new ruling includes 10 anonymous testimonials from students, claiming that Sleiman and members of his campaign team tampered with ballots.
“After I punched in my CCID, I assumed that I would have to read the rest of it however (Sleiman) took his back his phone and walked away … if it helps at all, I can testify that I was in fact jilted out of being able to vote properly,” one student said in the ruling.
Section 47 of SU Bylaw 2200 states: “Where a voter’s intention is clear, that voter’s ballot shall be counted.”
“With the new evidence, the Chief Returning Officer does not believe that the intention of the students that testified in the evidence provided in this ruling were reflected and as a result, the Chief Returning Officer believes that this is a tainted election,” the latest ruling reads.
Sleiman had until 4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 13 to appeal the CRO’s decision, but has stated he will not pursue further action.
“I know this has been the topic of the century for some of you, but it will soon come to an end,” Sleiman said in his public statement. “I do apologize to all students for anything I did wrong during the campaign. It was not my intention to pressure anyone into voting for me.”
Candidate Cody Bondarchuk, who is expected to be announced the winner of the race sometime within the next 24 hours, said Sleiman’s concession comes as a “relief.”
More to come.