May 5, 2015

SG Elections: E&R Committee addresses complaints, Open Minds withdraws

Since the Student Government (SG) elections opened on Thursday, a number of complaints have been filed against candidates and slates in the election; in its deliberations, the SG Elections and Rules Committee (E&R) has assessed an election penalty on one candidate and issued a warning in response to one other complaint.

On Friday, E&R considered three separate complaints at its 1 p.m. meeting. The first complaint, which was filed against Anthony Downer, candidate for undergraduate liaison to the Board of Trustees, and Nina Katemauswa, his running mate and candidate for community and government liaison, claimed that an election poster featuring the pair was hung in the Cathey Dining Hall in violation of  University policy.

According to the minutes of the E&R meeting, Downer said that he had received verbal permission from a Cathey staff member before hanging the poster, but SG rules in accordance with University policy state that candidates must “ask University housing [and] dining office permission to poster.”

In addressing the complaint, E&R assessed a 5 percent vote reduction on Downer, noting that the incident was a “minor infraction.” E&R did not assess any penalty on Katemauswa, citing that she had no involvement in the production or hanging of the poster. On Monday, Downer was ordered by E&R to remove that poster and a similar poster that was placed in Bartlett Dining Commons by today at noon, or to obtain permission form the University's Dining management, before the committee imposes further punishment.

The second complaint that E&R addressed on Friday claimed that a petition initiated by third-year Mark Sands, a member of the College Council, represented “collusion of slates.” According to the meeting minutes, Sands’ petition argued against slates announcing their intended cabinet members before the conclusion of the election, as “he believ[ed] this misrepresents [the] process of Student Government.” Sands then distributed the petition for signatures; the petition did not state that any particular slates had named cabinet members.

In addressing this complaint, E&R issued a warning to all slates and all signatories to Sands’ petition. According to the meeting minutes, the warning said “to be careful about what could be perceived as collusion, in [the] spirit of the election.”

A third body of several complaints alleged that the incumbent United Progress (U.P.) slate had improperly used all-student e-mail and sponsored Facebook posts in promoting their own campaign. E&R unanimously dismissed all of the complaints against U.P., on the basis that it did not use all student e-mail, and the sponsored Facebook posts in question were normal SG announcements that did not promote the U.P. slate.

On Monday, Open Minds slate announced their withdrawal from the election via a post on their public Facebook page. The post said that the slate withdrew because it objected to election proceedings that it viewed as noncompliant with SG regulations, but did not cite specific examples of the alleged conduct.

“Over the past week our team has become aware of and subject to private SG election proceedings that clearly fall outside of the purview of the SG Election By-laws, Code, and the Candidates’ Packet…we as individuals are unfortunately unable to bring public awareness to this issue while remaining in the race,” the post said.

The post also said that more information regarding Open Minds’ withdrawal from the election “will come shortly.”

Updated 5/5/2015 at 2:37 PM: In an e-mailed statement, E&R member Joshua Savitt responded to the content of Open Minds’ post by saying that the committee has been mindful to administer the SG elections in a manner pursuant to all codes and by-laws.

“The full committee is satisfied that E&R has been carefully conducting proceedings in a manner pursuant to the election code and the committee's mission,” he said.

Savitt added that Open Minds was removed from the online SG ballot on Saturday, when the slate announced its withdrawal to E&R.

The Open Minds slate could not be reached for further comment regarding its withdrawal from the SG elections.