UBC student union president impeached—for one day

Error in vote reading changes "Yes" vote from 76% to 71% and fails to get 75% needed to pass

I’m pleased to report that UBC student politics are still as screwed up as ever. Due to incompetence of those hired to run the elections, students thought that Blake Frederick had been fired as AMS President, only to have results reversed 16 hours later.

Last year, you may remember that  Frederick filed a human rights complaint to the United Nations, which was followed by Student Council, despite having overwhelming public support, proving themselves utterly unable to impeach him. Politics are fun.

When democracy doesn’t work well, people tend to believe that direct democracy can be a magical cure-all. So, a whopping 9 referendum questions were on the ballot in this year’s elections—including whether to impeach Frederick. It wasn’t going to be easy—per the AMS’ bylaws, it required 75 per cent to pass, and at least 3716 students (or 8% of AMS members) had to vote in favour as well.

And yet, Friday night, when election results were announced, the only referendum question to pass was…Impeaching Frederick!

The crowd roared. Beer flowed. Life was good. Even though the newly elected President (Bijan Ahmadian) was going to take office in two weeks time anyway, students against Frederick had scored a symbolic victory.

Not so fast.

Earlier today, the results were reversed. The Elections Committee announced that instead of 76 per cent of students voting for impeachment, only 71.2 per cent did. As a result, Frederick was saved—again.

“Reorganization of the output of the ballot referendum questions led to misappropriation of tabulated results,” Elections Administrator Isabel Ferreras told The Ubyssey, which is a wonderful jargony way of saying “we read it wrong.” AMS Elections are held almost exclusively online through online ballots.

Ironically, the question “Should the AMS actively lobby for reduced tuition fees and increased government funding?”, which supporters of Frederick put on the ballot to vindicate his belief that UBC students should do as much as possible to get tuition reduced, originally didn’t have enough “yes” votes to pass quorum. However, that decision was also reversed after the Elections Committee realized their mistake.

In conclusion, Frederick is still president, his belief that the AMS should lobby for lower tuition has been accepted by students, and yet, 71.2 per cent of students voted for his impeachment. I’m not sure what all of this means, except that once again the largest student union in Canada looks pretty silly. What else is new?

Sidenote: The question on whether students should pay a $5 penalty that would go to student engagement if they failed to vote, which our own Noah Mazereeuw took a hard stance against, failed badly, with only 37.7% voting in favour of the measure.