18 more candidates disqualified from KSA election
Candidates were disqualified after investigations into voting coercion, intimidation, slating, and the use of a QR code
The Kwantlen Student Association Chief Returning Officer (CRO) Jared Nash released five decisions last week to disqualify 18 more candidates who ran in the general election last month.
Candidates Charanpreet, Subhseerat (Seerat) Chauhan, Gurbir Dhaliwal, Yuvraj Gill, Gurleen Kaur, Simranjot Kaur, Tarandeep Kaur, Gurassis Singh Makkar, Prabhdeep Singh Rai, Ekamjot Singh, Gurfateh Singh, Guruamrit Singh, Harshdeep Singh, Jiwanjot Singh, Manoviraj Singh, Pardeep Singh, Prabhjot Singh, and Rahuldeep Singh were disqualified after investigations into voting coercion, intimidation, the use of a QR code in one instance, and slating.
A slate is defined as “two or more candidates running for elected office in a coordinated fashion to achieve a mutual advantage in an election” in the KSA bylaws. Under the bylaws, expressed or apparent slates are not allowed in KSA elections.
On Feb. 21, Diljot Narula was disqualified for running as Indigenous student representative when he could not provide a basis for his self-identification as an Indigenous student.
March 4 decision
On March 4, a decision was released to disqualify Guruamrit, who was running for student of colour rep, after investigating a complaint alleging Guruamrit intimidated and coerced the complainant — who is another candidate.
The complainant alleges that they were approached by two individuals in the Cedar building at Surrey campus and “induced him to join for a private conversation.” Guruamrit allegedly joined the two individuals and pressured the complainant to accompany them to the bathroom, where a large group of students waited and “aggressively attempted to pressure the complainant to campaign for [Guruamrit] and against another candidate, Jaspreet Shokar.”
The complainant provided Nash an audio recording of the incident, which KPU Manager of Campus Security Operations Kevin Biln translated and found supports the complainant’s allegations.
The recording “shows that [Guruamrit] repeatedly told the complainant to change his vote to [Guruamrit], to get others to vote for [Guruamrit], and that nobody should be voting for Shokar,” reads the decision report.
Nash provided Guruamrit a copy of the complaint and in response Guruamrit “denied the allegations, claimed not to know any of the other people who were present, and claimed the interaction was pre-planned in order to get [Guruamrit] disqualified.”
The CRO report concludes that Guruamrit engaged in intimidation and coercion. Guruamrit is also disqualified in a March 8 decision for participating in an apparent slate.
“It was a pre-planned and dirty politics done by Jaspreet Shokar to disqualify me,” Guruamrit says in an interview with The Runner. “I don’t know what’s going on at KPU, but I can tell that there’s big corruption going on.”
March 5 decisions
In the first decision released on March 5, Dhaliwal, who was running for Langley campus rep, was disqualified for allegedly interfering with voting and running in a slate.
Nash obtained a video and photo that showed Dhaliwal filling out a ballot on a voter’s mobile device “unchecking some candidates and checking other candidates” and submitting the ballot, according to the decision report.
When notified of the allegation, Dhaliwal “claimed that the voter in the video was his classmate, was unfamiliar with the voting process,” and that he was guiding the voter.
“Filling out a ballot for a voter cannot credibly be described as ‘guiding him through the voting process,’” reads the report. “His explanation is not a defence to the allegations as there is no exception to the rules that allows a candidate to assist voters in filling out their ballots.”
The CRO report concludes that Dhaliwal participated in voter interference and ran in the election in an apparent slate.
Dhaliwal did not respond to interview requests by the publication deadline.
The second decision released on March 5 disqualified Rai, who was running for business rep, for using a QR code for a voter’s electronic device to navigate the voting website in his presence.
On Feb. 27, Nash sent an email marked as high priority to candidates that he was banning the use of QR codes and allowed until midnight for the rule to come into effect.
“The purpose of this rule was to protect voting rights by preventing voters from being pressured into voting when they do not want to and to avoid candidates being present when voters were voting,” reads the decision report.
On Feb. 28, Rai approached Nash at the Surrey campus on the second floor of the Fir building with two others and, not recognizing Nash as the CRO, campaigned to him and asked Nash to vote for him through the QR code on his phone.
“When I identified myself to Rai, he claimed to be unaware of this email and told me that he had
been without his phone for a period of time. However, he was able to pull up the email on his
phone in front of me at that time,” reads the report.
Nash notes that the location this took place was away from high-traffic areas and had no other students around at that time, “which leads [Nash] to believe that Rai campaigned there in order to avoid detection of his use of a QR code.”
When notified of the allegation and risk of being disqualified, Rai did not provide Nash with a response.
The CRO report concludes that Rai displayed QR codes to voters for “the purpose of causing a voter’s electronic device to navigate to the voting website in his presence.” Rai is also disqualified in a March 8 decision for participating in an apparent slate.
Rai did not respond to interview requests by the publication deadline.
March 6 decision
On March 6, a decision was released to disqualify Pardeep, who was running for business rep, for engaging in intimidation and coercion of the complainant to pressure them to withdraw their complaint against Guruamrit, and for participating in an apparent slate.
The complainant alleges that Pardeep threatened to physically assault them if they did not withdraw their complaint against Guruamrit. When the complainant refused to talk to him, the complainant alleges Pardeep grabbed their hand and followed them to the library.
Biln provided Nash with a copy of the KPU security report regarding the incident, which states that Pardeep “denied all of the allegations of threatening behaviour,” and alleges that “the complainant has made a false accusation against him,” reads the decision report.
Nash consulted Biln again to view CCTV footage of the interaction between Pardeep and the complainant, which was found to be “generally consistent with the complainant’s account of the incident,” according to the report.
When advised he was at risk of being disqualified, Pardeep “denied the allegations and provided substantially the same account of the incident that he had provided to KPU security.”
The CRO report concluded that Pardeep “engaged in intimidation and coercion of the complainant to pressure him to withdraw his complaint against Guruamrit” and that this “constitutes as an attempt to pervert [Nash’s] investigation into the complaint against Guruamrit.” The report also states that Pardeep’s attempt to have the complainant withdraw their complaint against Guruamrit “gives rise to an apparent slate between Pardeep and Guruamrit.”
“They are all fake allegations and a pre-planned recording in the camera,” Pardeep says in an interview with The Runner. “And I volunteer at the International Student Union so … most of the KPU students know me.”
Pardeep says he joined in a protest with other disqualified candidates on March 9 outside the KSA office on Surrey campus.
March 8 decision
On March 8, a decision was released disqualifying Charanpreet, Ekamjot, Makkar, Gurfateh, Gurleen, Harsheep, Jiwanjot, Manoviraj, Prabhjot, Trehan, Simranjot, Chauhan, Tarandeep, and Gill for running in the election in an expressed or apparent slate. Guruamrit, Pardeep, and Rai are also listed as part of this decision in addition to the previous decisions, and the report notes they are further disqualified.
Nash was sent multiple screen recordings of a WhatsApp group chat where an image was shared with a list of the 18 candidates with green checkmarks next to their name sent by Guruamrit’s phone number.
“Guruamrit claimed he sent this list to someone, not to solicit votes, but to complain that someone else was circulating the list,” reads the decision report. Guruamrit also provided Nash with two audio recordings in Punjabi that “he claims are of conversations he had with the person who, he believes, provided the video of the slate list message” in which the individual says “her phone was used without her permission to send the list.”
“The recordings appear to be surreptitiously recorded phone calls, and it appears from one of the recordings that she did not wish to speak with him and hung up the call on [Guruamrit],” reads the report.
Nash also received two other versions of the candidate list from different sources. Many candidates denied knowledge of the list, according to the report. Nash was sent another “alleged slate list with none of the same candidates” and some other slight differences.
“Voting data also does not appear to support the existence of this alleged slate,” reads the report. “This list of an alleged second slate was fabricated as an adaptation of the slate list.”
While Dhaliwal was previously disqualified for voting interference, Nash notes in this decision that he “was able to discern several of the candidates that Dhaliwal was checking and unchecking” and the candidates identified that he was checking “were candidates listed on the slate list” and those he was unchecking were not.
Additionally, screenshots of campaign posters were “shared by a number of Instagram accounts that have apparent associations with each other.”
“Some of the candidates appear to be connected through a group known as the International Student Union (ISU) and its leader, Jashan Sidhu,” reads the report. Nash notes that Jashan is not a KPU student and was “removed from KPU by campus security officers during the first week of the campaign period and directed by them not to return during the election.”
Some candidates said they are not associated with the ISU, claimed not to know certain candidates on the slate list, or said they are associated with the ISU but that it doesn’t mean they ran in a slate.
The report notes that association with other candidates or ISU does not violate election rules, but the “evidence was considered only to the extent that it supports the credibility of the slate list on the whole because there are evident connections between many of the candidates on the list,” but also that the absence of evidence is not “sufficient to undermine the credibility of the slate list in light of the other evidence.”
Lastly, Nash reviewed voting information in which he can see which candidates were selected on each electronic ballot on a spreadsheet, but does not reveal voters’ identities. He observed “what appears to be a strong correlation” between voting for candidates on the slate list “for any of the faculty positions” and a “surprisingly large number of them also voted on other positions for the other candidates on the slate list” in “proportions that significantly exceed the overall share of the vote that those candidates received.”
The data showed “a surprising number of ballots cast voted for all five of the business representative candidates appearing on the list,” reads the report.
“Given that 17 candidates were on the ballot for that position, of which voters could vote up to five, there were several thousand possible combinations in which voters could have voted for this position, yet the combination shown on the slate list was by far the most common combination.”
The CRO report concluded that the candidates mentioned above ran in an expressed or apparent slate.
A total of 19 candidates were disqualified from the KSA general election.
The Runner will provide updates as further information becomes available.