A new president-elect, for now Muhammed Aydin is the unofficial MSU president-elect while other candidates seek appeals

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After deliberating once again, the McMaster Students Union elections committee has decided to disqualify the unofficial president-elect, Ikram Farah. After tallying the votes once again, Muhammed Aydin is the new, unofficial president-elect.

As of Feb. 5, Farah has five business days to declare her intent to appeal to the elections committee. Rabeena Obaidullah, who was originally disqualified on Jan. 25 and whose disqualification was maintained, has five business days to declare her intent to appeal to the electoral appeal board. In all cases, the electoral appeal board’s decision is final.

Farah plans on appealing her disqualification to the elections committee in the coming days. Obaidullah also plans on appealing to the electoral appeal board.

According to the MSU’s announcement, the elections committee did not disqualify Farah on Jan. 25 as they did not believe the violations her campaign had accrued had affected the integrity of the election.

After deliberating on Feb. 5, the elections committee reconsidered some of the original complaints levied against Farah and decided she had violated two additional rules, resulting in her disqualification.

In particular, they ruled that Farah’s electronic media had not provided a sufficient link to the main Elections Department website. She was also penalized for knowingly violating a rule.

Farah plans on appealing her disqualification to the elections committee in the coming days. Obaidullah also plans on appealing to the electoral appeal board.

If a candidate has one “severe violation”, the elections committee considers disqualification. A candidate is only disqualified if their actions were deemed to have affected the integrity of the election.

According to the meeting minutes from the Jan. 25 meeting, the elections committee also considered disqualifying Aydin.

Aydin received two severe violations for sourcing campaign materials outside of the MSU Underground and for deliberately breaking a rule. They ruled that these infractions did not affect the election and maintained the legitimacy of his campaign.

They also discussed disqualifying Farah at this meeting, who received severe violations such as incurring more than $30 in fines for the same violation; a fine for deliberately breaking a rule, disrespecting the deputy returning officer of the MSU Elections department and for campaigning in bad taste.

According to the meeting minutes, Farah’s campaign team ignored the DRO when she asked them to stop using unapproved amplification equipment, something the committee deemed disrespectful towards elections officials. Farah was also fined for “bad taste” due to some of her campaign team smearing another candidate’s platform. During the Jan. 25 meeting, however, the committee felt that these violations had not swayed voters.

Following their Feb. 5 meeting, the committee ratified two more severe violations and deemed it grounds for disqualifications.

Obaidullah was disqualified during the Jan. 25 meeting because they believed her severe violations compromised the integrity of the election and gave her an unfair advantage.

In particular, they took issue with the violations concerning posts in closed Facebook groups, as this not only broke one of their main rules but also could not be traced unless people in those closed groups disclosed them to the elections committee.

Evidence presented to the election committee showed that multiple posts had been made on behalf of Obaidullah encouraging people to vote for her, a direct violation of one of the campaign rules. This violation, compounded by others such as mass messages and campaigning in bad taste, were the rationale for Obaidullah’s disqualification.

Before this election, presidential candidates have only been disqualified three other times. The last time a presidential candidate was disqualified was in the 2016 election, when candidate Sarah Jama was disqualified. Jama was disqualified for spending over the spending limit and for campaigning in bad taste. Following the appeals process, she was reinstated and came in second place.

For now, Aydin is the next MSU president-elect. The exact rationale behind Farah’s disqualification is still unknown as the elections committee has not yet released their meeting minutes from their Feb. 5 meeting. Until the appeals process is over, all results are unofficial.

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