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Over 1,000 spoiled ballots in CUSA elections

Third-year journalism student Sam Corey said many students ruined their ballots because they have lost faith in CUSA. (Photo by Pedro Vasconcellos)

There were over 1,000 spoiled ballots in this year’s Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) elections, according to chief electoral officer Sunny Cohen.

Cohen said 724 votes for the executive candidates were spoiled and 112 were rejected, with 4,508 people voting in total.

A little under 400 people spoiled their councillor ballots.  A ballot is deemed spoiled when a person writes in more than one box, Cohen said.

A ballot is rejected when someone writes or draws something unrelated to the election on their ballot.

Most of the people who spoiled their ballots did so by mistake, Cohen said. The candidates were listed in alphabetical order. Occasionally, people would check the wrong box, scratch out their answer and check the right one.

Those votes could not be counted, Cohen said, because the election team could not be sure  what the voter intended.

Each polling station had clear instructions about how to vote, Cohen said. The clerks were given sample ballots to show students how they should mark their ballots.

Voters who made a mistake on their ballots could get a fresh ballot from polling clerks, but that was not included on the instructions, he said.

“You run into a situation where people could foreseably walk away with multiple ballots or vote multiple times,” he said.

“In a provincial or federal election, if you mark more than one candidate even if it is just a tick, it is still spoiled,” he said.

That being said, a number of people deliberately had their ballots rejected, he said. Instead of checking a box, they would write they did not want to vote for any of the candidate

A few days before the election, a Facebook group was started to encourage people to “Phallus Your Ballot” instead of voting, with the tagline, “If we’re going to elect dicks, we might as well get to draw them.”

Over a 100 people decided to draw penises on their ballots, Cohen said.

A lot of students ruined their ballots because they have no faith in CUSA, third-year journalism student Sam Corey said.

“They’re putting their own personal interest ahead of students at Carleton,” he said.

“They’re really more concerned about it as a resume-builder instead of what’s best for students.”

He said he voted for two candidates because he felt they did care about student issues, but drew a phallus on the rest of his ballots.

Corey said CUSA spends too much time debating about safe spaces, an issue that should be taken care of by university policy, and ignoring issues that council really could change.

To Corey, those issues are the lack of student participation in frosh week and sporting events who said too few people go out to watch basketball and hockey games, he said.

This lack of student spirit has made a lot of people think Carleton is not much more than a “25,000-student high school,” Corey said.

“If you have no pride as a student, then you won’t have any pride as an alumni, so you’re not going to donate any money to the school,” he said.

In the weeks preceding the election, Cohen said people asked him about what to do if they do not want to support any of the candidates, usually because of CUSA’s “petty politics” or because they felt harassed by canvassers.

He advised them to go to a polling station anyways and leave their ballots blank.

“It’s still an opinion. It’s just as powerful to vote for no one as it is to vote for any specific candidate,” he said.

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