In an odd turn of events, Matthew Drover, candidate for Finance and Services, has been expelled from the 2017 MUN Students’ Union (MUNSU) general election.
An hour and fifteen minutes before the closing of the polls, Drover received an email from the Chief Returning Officer, Tiffany Holmberg, on behalf of the elections committee informed Drover that he had been expulsed from the election.
Matthew Drover and Pierce Collier sat down with the Muse in an exclusive interview to discuss their election campaign so far and what this expulsion means for both his campaign and students who may or may not have voted for Drover.
The email in question obtained by the Muse, cited that Drover and his campaign had violated section 4 B of the election by-laws by hosting a public forum without informing the CRO of this event – which, Collier, said “we missed that rule and expected a ten dollar fine for this violation”
In an earlier phone call from Holmberg to Drover, he says he was assured that he wouldn’t be expulsed for the town hall but that it was a clear violation.
The elections committee also expelled Drover from the election due to “harassment of other candidates”, which Drover said never happened.
Drover said that before this incident, the public perception of his campaign had been very positive and that many students who felt unrepresented before, felt that they had a candidate who would voice their issues and concerns to the union.
Drover feels that students who have voted for him have wasted their votes, and further, that his expulsion was as a result of his likelihood to win the campaign for Executive Director of Finance and Services.
Andrew Walsh, a campaigner for Drover, said “The issue is that this is rather late to disclose that one particular event that happened a week ago is why he [drover] was disqualified.”
“I think its interesting that it would be shut down so late, and it will be interesting to see if the vote count for every candidate is announced.”
Mitchell Sparks,current Engineering Rep with MUNSU, said “I’m disapointed to see that this happened so closely to closing of the polls. A lot of work has been put into this campaign and if this was somehow intentional I’ll be very very disapointed with our students union.”
As for next steps, Drover says that he will be appealing to the elections committee and the Board if his appeal is overturned.
Currently, no proof of these harassment allegations have been obtained by the Muse.
CRO, Holmberg, responded to the Muse and said that Drovers name was unable to be removed from the banner voting system once the election had started.
While Drover may have a case to appeal, the official vote count came in at 414, putting Drover in second place to Finance and Services Elect Sophia Solomon, who won with 460 votes.
“Matthew Drover was not just expelled due to harassment, he was expelled due to having committed a number of offenses. In addition to harassment complaints I received, a key factor in his expulsion was an unauthorized town hall event he organized,” said Holmberg. “In direct violation of the election rules, he organized it without informing me. That rule exists so that I can make sure that any public election events are fair for all candidates.
“I never guaranteed him that he would not expelled. I spoke with him while investigating the incident, and said I would be back in touch when I had finished my investigation. During this time I consulted with the election committee, reviewed the regulations and also considered past precedent. I decided that in light of the culmination of complaints and offenses, it was my responsibility to uphold the integrity of the election process and ensure the election proceeded fairly.”
Meanwhile, Drover has appealed the decision. However, no public knowledge of the dismissal was known until minutes before voting closed, when first announced by the Muse.