A brief breakdown
At its core, the MUNSU election is governed by two documents and two bodies— the elections policy document and constitution, and the CRO (Chief Returning Officer) and the elections committee. The CRO is also the chair of the elections committee. This simple organizational body is responsible for both running an election and handling offences within the election.
A strike in MUNSUs election is simple, break a rule – receive a strike, five strikes, and you are out of the election. The CRO has absolute authority over issuing or not issuing strikes. Candidates are only issued a five-minute grace period for removing strikes.
When asking MUNSUs CRO about strikes, bias, and other issues, they stated,
“If you break a pencil, and the pencil is broken, the pencil is still broken and I have to strike you for it accordingly. Did you break the pencil? I don’t know, the pencil has your face on it, and it is topping another pencil that was recently broken. Did you break the pencil and put your own face on it? Who knows? All I have is a photo that has been submitted to me.”
Overall, MUNSUs CRO’s response to questions regarding bias playing a role is that it doesn’t exist enough to cause an impact or that any amount of existing bias cannot be removed in any way. Meanwhile, some candidates claim that thanks to bias in the elections committee and the CRO himself, the MUNSU election has become an exclusive club rather than an open and democratic process.
Claims from candidates
Some candidates have raised concerns to the Muse about issues relating to bias. We spoke with two candidates who were expelled from the election, claiming that the process of removing them was full of bias and that their voices were not heard in appeals. The two candidates further claimed that the appeals process was unfair and that the same person that expelled them, the MUNSU CRO, was their representative for the appeals committee. The candidates wish to remain anonymous.
In response, while MUNSU’S CRO did not discuss issues related to individual cases, he pointed out that strikes were fairly and leniently issued, and candidates who repeatedly committed these infringements were expelled.
Two weeks after speaking to us, the two expelled candidates lost their appeal, leaving them still withdrawn from the election. They maintain that they were removed unreasonably and that bias played a big part in their dismissal. A new by-election was held to replace them.
MUNSU’s CRO claimed that the appeals were not filed correctly and were not heard in front of the board. The candidates claim miscommunication and errors on the part of MUNSU.
MUNSU’s CRO insists that the election process is as unbiased as possible. While some candidates claim that the election was rigged against them from the start, the validity of these claims is difficult to verify. Regardless, having a fair and transparent election process is essential when choosing MUNSU executives representing students in major aspects of student life.