“The IEC [Independent Electoral Commision] has decided to withhold the results until next week, and will continue updating you. We apologize for the inconvenience, and appreciate your patience.”
Attention: Results for the General Election and Referendum 2017 will not be posted today.
— SFSS Elections (@SfssElections) March 31, 2017
That set the tone of the email that the Independent Electoral Commissioner sent out to candidates Friday morning, with many of them already convening to hear the results of the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) election.
If you were hoping to learn who the new Board of Directors would be, it seems as though you’ll have to wait until Monday at the earliest.
We are withholding results until next week and will continue updating you. We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.
— SFSS Elections (@SfssElections) March 31, 2017
The email came at 10:21 a.m., which was the first any candidate had been told they’d have to wait for results. It was originally supposed to be announced at 11 a.m., and the sudden postponement had them frustrated and anxious. The only indication in the original email was: “Please recall that the IEC mentioned results would be released today, assuming there were no conflicts in doing so.”
While no official reason was given, the original email was followed by another at 4:14 p.m. noting that ballots would be reopened due to an error that accidentally closed voting 10 minutes before its deadline.
“The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will be re-opening the ballot for the Executives and At-Large Directors, and Referendum Questions as a result of a technical error that led to the ballot being closed at 11:50pm as opposed to 11:59pm last night. To ensure the fullest accessibility to the voting process, the ballot will be reopened on Monday at 12:00pm to 12:09pm. You will receive another email with the appropriate link to the ballot at 12:00pm on Monday.” [sic]
The Peak reached out to the IEC for an official statement, but had not heard back at the time of publication.
“I was very shocked,” said sole presidential candidate Hangue Kim. “We were all really ready to hear the results and just getting that email was a ball drop. I understand if there is some kind of reason, some kind of conflict that does occur, but [39 minutes before] is just too soon.”
This sentiment was shared by other candidates, including Jimmy Dhesa, who was the only candidate for vice-president student services. Dhesa’s comments came before the 4:14 p.m. email.
“I think everyone is kind of anxious to know the results, especially with final studying going on,” said Dhesa. “People want to get all the election stuff out of their head and gear in for finals, and there’s a little bit of a worry that if there is some sort of re-vote or something necessary, in addition to what the candidates have already put their work into, I think they’re scared it might eat into more of their time.”
Kim, who also responded before the second email, pointed out ahead of time his hunch that the delay was due to the ballot being closed early.
“One thing that came up is potentially the time. The survey ended nine minutes before the deadline, so that might play a big factor in it. And a few complaints from students coming in over students going around with laptops, securing votes. I think there’s a potential conflict for that,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of things that go on in these elections.”
The election ending early was also a big issue for Dhesa.
“I got word from a bunch of students who said they couldn’t vote because they were trying to in between 11:50 and 11:59 and the survey said it was closed,” he said.
Dhesa said that not only is it important for students — whom he specifies are paying members and deserve the right to vote — to have the option to vote up until the last minute, he knows from personal experience how important it can be.
“I was told by last year’s IEC that my tying vote came in at 11:58, so pretty much right at the end of the vote. If the voting period had ended, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to a re-vote and be on the board this year,” he recalled.
Current SFSS President Larissa Chen isn’t running in this year’s election, and is only invested as a student. However, her take on this is that even though there could be a very legitimate reason, the communication of all this has not been handled as well as it could — for both telling candidates and the voting student body.
“I think the key concern that a lot of people have is, ‘So it’s postponed, but really, what’s going on?’ And in terms of that, I think that a lot of concerns and criticism come from curiosity. I think that the IEC — just like any other body — has a responsibility to update students on what’s going on and be available to answer questions, if anything,” she said. Chen made these comments before the second email was sent out.
“It truly is the responsibility of the IEC to ensure that the elections are run in a timely, fair, and efficient manner.”
Students will receive another email on Monday to vote.