Alison Redford became the premier of Alberta in 2011, but she only got 19 per cent of the vote in the first ballot of her party's leadership election. Her opponent, Gary Marr, received 41 per cent.

Through the magic of ranked ballots, Redford pulled her total up to 37 per cent of the vote in the second round while Marr only inched ahead one per cent. In the third and final round, Redford came out ahead with 51 per cent of the vote.

When using a ranked ballot, it's not out of the question to see a candidate seemingly far away from victory gather the support of other candidates to come out on top. 

That's why the University Students' Council's (USC) student programs officer (SPO) election is an especially concerning fuck up. 

Instead of dropping off candidates with the lowest support and redistributing their preferences, second choices were seemingly just added to the candidate's totals. By the second round of voting, 168 votes were counted — despite the fact there were only 84 eligible voters — a pretty clear error.

Yet, it was not fixed right after it happened. 

This evening, candidates are being encouraged to send scrutineers to monitor a recount of the ballots — retrieved from a box meant for shredding. This, of course, raises questions:

Who was in custody of the ballots from the time they were taken from AGM II and put in the box for shredding? Will scrutineers be present as the box is opened and sensitive USC documents meant for shredding are rifled through to find ballots? 

There is no way to guarantee that these ballots were not tampered with, altered or that all can be recovered. This whole thing puts doubt on the entire electoral proceedings. 

Of course, there's also the issue of the incoming executive influencing the vote by telling councillors who they should and shouldn't vote for. While they're not breaking any written rules, they are certainly raising ethical questions about their behaviour.

New councillors who don't fully grasp their roles and want to have a productive relationship with the incoming executive may have felt obliged to follow their wishes.

Again, it adds more doubt on the election process and undermines confidence overall.

Tulk apologized for trying to influence the election, attributing it to "stress." Let's be honest, there is little stress in being an incoming student executive of the USC — you will have a great salary for a year while being an afforded an amazing platform. Thus, his apology seems questionable.

So how does the USC proceed from here?

In my opinion, a revote would be the fairest solution. Unfortunately, that's not as easy as it may sound — last year's council was de-ratified on Sunday. 

The USC is in this strange predicament now, and there is no perfect solution moving forward. 

As outgoing Faculty of Music Students' Council president, Jaclyn Siou, drew attention to in a letter to the Gazette, it's unfortunate that Mac McIntosh has become collateral in these discussions. While I don't necessarily share her complete confidence that McIntosh would have won regardless, I believe he was certainly one of the most qualified candidates for the position.

In the end, five candidates have had their election thrown into disarray, plagued with doubt and uncertainty. How did this all happen? The incompetence from the incoming executive and those administering the vote.

Outbrain