KSA welcomes new reps and releases final election report at April council meeting

Jaya Dhillon and Lesli Sangha took oaths of office at the first meeting following the general election

Leslie Sangha, Mature Rep (left) and Jaya Dhillon, Disability Rep (right). (file photos)

On April 9, the two newly elected Kwantlen Student Association councillors took their oaths of office during the first general meeting of the new KSA council. Until additional members are added, Students with Disabilities Representative Jaya Dhillon and Mature Students Representative Lesli Sangha will be the only elected members on the council.

“It’s time for a fresh perspective,” said Sangha in the minutes before the meeting began.

Both representatives said they are looking forward to working with each other and the KSA staff and are working to determine how the executive committee will function with only two council members.

“Internally, we could really use an executive committee, because there are some motions that we would like to get passed,” said KSA Executive Director Benjamin Newsom.

Newsom suggested that Sangha and Dhillon pass “out of meeting” motions, which come into effect when they are signed by the councillors, and then post those motions for students to see.

“These can’t be secret […] we will definitely want to make sure that those get posted to the website as soon as they happen, so that people are aware when those do happen,” he added.

Former Tech Campus Representative Jeremy Law was in attendance. He expressed his support for the two councillors and his interest in participating in KSA committees over the course of the summer.

Chief Returning Officer Ron Laufer’s final report on the KSA election was also presented during the meeting. The report highlighted the difficulties in running this year’s election entirely online and commented on the circumstances surrounding the disqualification of 21 candidates and the following appeals processes.

“The 2021 election was highly problematic,” states the report.

“While critical elements of the election were not hampered by preparations, significant stress was spread amongst the KSA, myself, and KPU because the KSA hadn’t sought to adjust to the reality of an online election far in advance of the elections. I was hoping to start adjusting to the new reality in November when I sent my seasonal check in email, but nothing took shape until mid January. This created a frantic process to ensure elections could take place.”

The report also says that although the KSA election was able to rely on some of KPU’s systems to facilitate voting, it “was sufficient to handle the process, but not ideal,” because of the interface that required voters to fill out a new form for every candidate they wished to elect.

Moving the voting process online did make it more accessible for students. However, the report also says that other societies have been worried about how it could affect voting security and that it can put “undue pressure” on members.

The document stated that more data will be required to make sure students aren’t voting multiple times across different campuses when the elections return to in-person.

Additionally, the CRO recommended that the KSA take more measures to require proof that students actually belong to the constituency position they are running or voting for. For example, preventing domestic students from voting for international student representatives and reducing what the CRO called “fraudulent voting that occurs in some cases for various constituency positions.”

Some candidates submitted their nomination forms online using an online service called JotForm, which according to the report, “arguably does not allow for the same kind of authentication of supporters that paper forms allow for,” and Laufer concluded by calling for a reform to the election process in order to prevent problems like this from happening again,

Some additional suggestions were made, like starting election preparations earlier, observing voter data in real-time on the election days, hiring a translator to help the CRO, and placing requirements on constituency voting.

“The most important thing going forward is for considerable attention to be paid to reform the elections process in the future to avoid the kinds of issues being faced in the last few years,” Laufer wrote.

The next KSA general council meeting will take place on May 7 at 10:00 am over Zoom.