Report: Elections Committee - October 14, 2021

Via Virtual Meeting room


October 14, 2021

To the Executive Committee,
University of Toronto.

Your Committee reports that it held a virtual meeting on Thursday, October 14, 2021 at 5:00 p.m. with the following members present:

Mark Lautens (Chair), David Bowden, Kenneth Williams, Vikram Chadalawada

Joanne McNamara

Timothy Harlick, Secretary
Anwar Kazimi, Deputy Secretary of the Governing Council and Chief Returning Officer
Patrick McNeil, Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council and Deputy Returning Officer
Cindy Ferencz-Hammond, Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council and Deputy Returning Officer, UTM
Emma Thacker, Assistant Secretary of the Governing Council and Deputy Returning Officer, UTSC

  1. Welcome/Introductions

    The Chair welcomed members and guests to the meeting.
  2. Overview of Mandate & Terms of Reference

    The Chair provided an overview of the Committee’s mandate and highlighted its areas of responsibility as outlined in its Terms of Reference, including its composition. One of the Committee’s stated areas of responsibility was to review and recommend for approval the policy on elections. While there was not a separate document on “elections policy”, the Election Guidelines and the University of Toronto Act, 1971, each contained elements which together were considered the elections policy. He added that the U of T Act also spoke to a number of areas related to Governing Council membership and elections.

    The Act empowered the Governing Council to determine the manner and procedure of election of its members. The Act also authorized the Governing Council to set constituencies and assign administrative staff, student, and teaching staff to these constituencies, which could be characterized as subgroups within each estate. The Committee also oversaw the elections process and the CRO would present an Elections Report to the Committee at the final meeting of the governance cycle.

    Turning to Elections Guidelines, the Chair noted that an important function of the Committee was to review annually the Election Guidelines and approve any minor amendments. The draft 2022 Guidelines would be considered by the Committee at the next meeting. If required, recommendations for “major” amendments to the Guidelines would be forwarded by the Committee to the Executive Committee for approval.

    As in past years, the 2022 elections schedule would start with the opening of the nomination period in January, through the campaign and voting period in mid-February, the appeals period, and finally would end with any hearings regarding election expenses towards the end of March.

    The Chair then discussed the important role of the Committee as Election Overseers. In this role the Committee would be empowered to consider any appeal of a decision of the Chief Returning Officer (CRO) or the Deputy Returning Officers as well as any appeal or other question arising from the conduct of the elections as outlined in the Guidelines.
  3. Preliminary Discussion - Election Guidelines 2022

    The CRO provided a preliminary report on the proposed revisions to the Guidelines. Mr. Kazimi drew members’ attention to section 2 where dates and deadlines were updated and noted that outside of those changes, there would not be any major revisions to the document.

    He then provided an overview of the recommendations found in the recent report of the anti-black racism taskforce relating to inclusion and representation on governing bodies. The Office of the Governing Council had involved the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion to assist in drafting appropriate language to be added to the Guidelines. In addition, the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion would also be engaged during upcoming outreach sessions to the different constituencies throughout the University.

    The CRO also updated the Committee on a new election platform that would be incorporated into the election process. In the past, uElect was the platform used however, through RFP, the Office of the Governing Council had moved to a new vendor that was also being used for elections in some student societies. For the purposes of the Guidelines, the voting mechanism would still be through the Utorid, so only that unique identifier would allow access to the ballot and to vote where eligible.

    In response to members’ questions, Mr. Kazimi provided the Committee with the following information:
  • With many competing interests at the University, it can be challenging to increase interest in the elections and that efforts in outreach were being made to change that.
  • Participation and voter turnout in elections varies year to year and can be highly dependent on the level of activity of the candidate seeking election. Every effort is made to ensure candidates are supported and understand the resources available for campaigning.
  1. Report of the Previous Meeting - Report Number 90 (June 2, 2021)

    The Report of the Previous Meeting – Report Number 90, was approved.
  2. Business Arising from the Report of the Previous Meeting

    There was no business arising from the report of the previous meeting.
  3. Date of Next Meeting: Thursday, November 25, 2021, 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

    The Chair confirmed that the date of the next meeting would be held on November 25, 2021.
  4. Other Business

    There were no items of other business.

The meeting adjourned at 5:29 p.m.

October 15, 2021