The election report falls short by missing key areas of discussion

The recommendations made by the IEC Chief Commissioner are vague and incomplete

1
116

Written by Corbett Gildersleve

This is the third year where I’ve been involved with a Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) election in some form. The first time it was as a candidate for the applied science representative position, while the other two were as a student or stakeholder asking difficult questions, and waiting for bland non-answers from an SFSS incumbent. This year’s election was different in that more people ran for positions and the board slate didn’t sweep. The way the election was run also differed from ones in the past. It’s hard to say why, though, since the election report is missing key information that could provide context, especially concerning the eight recommendations listed in it.

Now, I won’t be trashing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Chief Commissioner while reviewing this report since I’ve never done their job. However, I do know that it’s generally a thankless but necessary role. To me, some of their recommendations make little sense without additional information and context. Here, I will try to provide some historical and policy context in my review — future articles will explain my counter-recommendations. (Are you as excited as I am?)

For the candidates, board members, and regular students who have complaints about the election, remember that accountability falls on the Administrative Supervisor and the Campaigns, Policy, and Research Coordinator (CPRC) as they’re the ones who interviewed and recommended the IEC
to the Board for hiring as per the election policies.

Let’s talk about the election report as a whole. According to the election policies in the Chief Commissioner’s report must include at least: 

  • The dates of the various election periods.
  • The names and positions of candidates.
  • The wording of referendum questions.
  • The results of the vote.
  • A list of issues that occurred and how they were handled.
  • A set of recommendations for improvements.
  • An appendix including all infractions, complaints, and decisions made regarding electoral and referendum campaign regulations.

The recommendations are generally only a few sentences long, and lack the context that the bolded parts would provide, if they were included. Furthermore, according to that policy, all the points listed above are needed for the Chief Commissioner to be eligible for their final stipend. The new Board should check with the old Board to see if they accepted and ratified an incomplete election report.

One possibility is that the report template that was given to the IEC is missing those sections. This might be possible, because the Fall 2017 referendum report contains the exact same sections. No more, no less. If the template is missing key parts, then that’s on the CPRC staff members, as they’re responsible for the creation of the template.

Do you know what else is missing from both the report and policies? The cost of the election! The previous election policies clearly required an expense report, and every election report going back to at least 2007 has that information. The new policies do not. That’s a problem, as it actually directly relates to one of the recommendations involving IEC work hours and costs. I really hope this was just an oversight and not another example of the SFSS becoming less transparent.

I’d like to give the 2016-2017 board the benefit of the doubt, but the minutes where the policies were passed (April 24, 2017) are barebones with no discussion points. So, either the entire governance committee of that year missed it, or it was intentional. I hope the new Board changes that, as it is a very easy policy amendment. If someone tries to say that, with the inclusion of staff in almost every area of elections now, it’s harder to figure out costs, tell them that financial transparency is never easy, but it’s necessary. It’s why we have audits. Or, you could just revert it back to the old election policies and ask the governance committee to redo them. You might want to do that anyways to fix the staff/admin conflict of interest issues.

However, for all that it’s missing, the report touches on some issues within the SFSS and elections through its recommendations. They cover everything from scheduling and booking issues to excess hours, IEC task autonomy, slates, and endorsements. Like most past IEC recommendations, some issues can be fixed, some cannot, and some the SFSS will just ignore.

So, stay tuned for the next article, which will go through each recommendation and try and provide some historical and policy context, as well as my own suggestions for possible fixes.

1 COMMENT

  1. […] In last week’s article, I talked about the SFSS 2018 Election Report and some concerns I had with it. Included in that report were eight recommendations for ways to improve future SFSS elections. However, the independent electoral commissioner’s (IEC) recommendations don’t always make sense without further information and context. This information would normally be included in two other sections of the election report — sections which are absent from the 2018 report. However, even without those sections, many of the recommendations touch on important issues with SFSS elections. Here, I will be talking about recommendations 3–8, with the IEC’s recommendations paraphrased and followed by my own commentary. (Check out the online version for my commentary on recommendations 3, 6, and 8.  Let’s dig in! […]