Hero or Villain? Nathan Warner Stuffs (Ballot) Boxes
The University of Victoria Student Society has a mottled history of elections. Chief Electoral Officers have resigned, entire slates have been disqualified twice, ballots are counted twice – and that was just last year. The elected body of the UVSS is mired in petty politics when at its best, and most entertaining at its worst and this is never more true than during an election – because what fun is an election if it follows the rules of democracy?
It seems to have become a trend for members of the UVSS to point out weaknesses in the electoral system. Last year Shawn Slavin criticized the electoral system for being open to manipulation by reporting a ‘lost’ student card which would then entitle the student to a new card and UVSS sticker which would allow the student to vote again (though he did not vote a second time). While not exactly high brow election fraud, the problem was still present. This year Nathan Warner took his case one step further and actually committed electoral fraud. If you’re not familiar with the scandal, there are three sides to the story so far, one from blogger-in-arms UVSS uncovered here, one from CFS hack UVic Undergound here and one from Nathan Warner himself here, so I won’t get into the details, and instead go straight to speculation, indignant crying and name-calling. I believe what Warner has done is both noble and stupid.
Noble, because he has essentially forgone the next month and a half of his term as Director at Large in the name of democracy. Warner graduates this year and will not be returning to Victoria, and while his actions are mired in controversy right now a referendum held during this election showed strong student support to move on online elections, and he may eventually be heralded as a martyr for sanity and democracy being restored to the UVSS.
What he did was stupid, because had the election turned out differently the results could be in serious doubt. Warner has strong ties with the ReNew slate, and had they been on the flipside of the landslide vote that elected a largely Fuse board you can be sure Fuse (the slate backed by election muddler Veronica Harrison herself) would be up in arms about the integrity of the election (newsflash, they are anyway) and we very well could have seen a contested election that could have seen BC’s speedy legal system deciding the fate of what was a decidedly sordid election filled with mudslinging, name-calling, and petty nitpicking over electoral rules.
In the end, this will all likely blow over when (not if) Warner resigns. The group of people that would make the biggest
fuse fuss over the integrity of the election are in power and any action ReNew takes to have the election investigated will not be supported by power-hungry fair and democratic fuse. Also, the referendum for online voting was heavily supported by students, in fact it would take a serious debate of semantics for the new board to ignore students’ plea for the online vote (but if anyone can do it, newly elected Director of Finance Dylan Sherlock can).
In other news, there will surely be some grumbling about Ryan Levis stealing votes from Rachel Chapman in the chairperson race as the two likely split the logic and reason vote. Jaraad Marani (who stole a seat on the board last year and accused Macleans magazine of being racist purely based on an article’s title) beat out newcomer Roy Nam for Director of External Relations and will surely continue his crusade of eliminating any magazines worth reading from the SUB. Also nearly 400 people voted ‘no’ for new Director of Events Remy Hall, which I consider a small victory. That was a vote for democracy, a vote for choice, and a vote against slates. We can all look forward to a year of entitled women’s studies and idealist poli-sci students whining and clenching their fists while threatening to hold their breaths every time they see injustice in the world as the UVSS debt and deficit spirals further out of control.