Following a tumultuous election cycle, a motion by North Side councillor Jen Frail to unappoint Rayan Bouhlel as chief returning officer of MASU has failed. Seventeen councillors opposed the motion, four voted in favour and one abstained from voting during a secret ballot that occurred in camera.
Issues with how the January ballots were set up were identified before the polls closed.
Due to MASU bylaws, motions to unappoint staff members must be circulated for at least a week before they can be voted on in council.
The election came to a conclusion before the motion to unappoint could be voted on.
“Many members of the student body expressed to me their concern about how that whole fiasco was being dealt with, and specifically with regards to how [Bouhlel] was performing in his duties,” said Frail of the improper ballot set-up in the executive elections.
The online voting system was set to mandatory preferential voting rather than the optional system mandated by MASU’s election rules. This meant voters could not vote for a single candidate but instead had to rank all candidates or to abstain from voting entirely. Bouhlel offered paper ballots to students who wished to vote for a single candidate in any of the competitive polls.
“I made a mistake with setting up the ballots and I apologize for not doing my job properly,” Bouhlel said in council.
The motion listed grounds for Bouhlel’s removal as improper ballot setup, not acting in compliance with the bylaws, and not making decisions in the best interests of students. The motion called for removing Bouhlel from his position and allowing the deputy returning officer, Jeffrey Owen, to take over running the spring election that is now underway.
In council, Bouhlel said he made steps to rectify the situation when he became aware of the problem. Frail disagreed.
“The error was brought to your attention long before [polls closed],” said Frail.
“The mistakes that were made were honest mistakes,” said Vice-President Campus Life Andrew Johnston, who voiced strong opposition early on in the discussion of the motion.
“I don’t think that we should punish our staff for messing up,” said Johnston. “It sets a very dangerous precedent.”
“I think that although the situation was rectified, it doesn’t change how it was handled,” said Frail. “That’s what really upset people.”