Review board criticized for SA recount
April 17, 2007
The winners of the recent Student Assembly elections for Class of 2008 vice president for advocacy and treasurer say they are furious with the SA Review Board’s Sunday night decision to scrap the results of those elections. The board found that the elections had been decided unfairly and ordered a revote for those positions.
p. “The Review Board made a decision tonight to overturn the Elections Commission in a move that I personally don’t believe was very impartial,” junior Matt Brown said. He had previously been declared the winner for vice president for advocacy by one vote — making it the closest election in SA history — but the decision was challenged by junior Shariff Tanious, Brown’s opponent.
p. Tanious appealed the original decision on the grounds that a student who is not taking classes this year because he is in an intern program in Florida should have been allowed to vote. The student was unable to log onto the Student Information Network and decided to vote through e-mail. His vote for Tanious would have tied the election.
p. Tanious also argued that students could have voted for him during brief periods when the polls should have been opened but were not, as they opened approximately 15 minutes late.
Ultimately, the board agreed.
p. “The Review Board finds that reasonable doubt exists with regard to the integrity of the Class of 2008 Vice President for Advocacy election,” the board stated in an opinion written by member Will Angley, a junior. “There is no way to establish with certainty what elections-related interactions with the SIN website happened [when the polls were closed but should have been open], but [the board] still believes that this disruption alone could have obscure[d] a decisive vote or group of votes in this election.”
p. The opinion also stated that the board had already determined that the student who cast his vote through e-mail was eligible to run for election, and therefore should have been eligible to vote.
p. “The entire election was marred with errors that, while [they] would make no material difference in other elections, could have a significant impact in the result of the ’08 VPA race since it was so close,” Tanious said in an e-mail to The Flat Hat.
p. Brown has until April 25 to appeal the decision.
p. “I agree with several members of the SA that this entire process has been very corrupt,” Brown said.
p. Junior Laura Rogers also had her election overturned.
p. “I’m rather infuriated by the decision made by the Review Board,” she said in an e-mail to The Flat Hat. “Three minutes before midnight Sunday night I received an e-mail from the Review Board that ordered my inauguration as Treasurer be put on hold. … This was the first I had heard of an appeals process or review of my election of ANY KIND.”
p. She said Chairman of the Elections Commission sophomore Alex Kyrios decided not to alert her of the appeal because Kyrios thought it had no merit and would not get anywhere.
p. Junior Nick Faulkner filed the appeal, challenging the Elections Commission’s decision to decide the race by paper ballot because nobody announced a decision to run in time to be added to the electronic ballot. He said that the 25 people who voted in the election — 14 cast for Rogers — do not adequately represent the class.
p. “No information was distributed, to the candidates or the school as a whole, indicating that write-in candidates only needed a majority of those who voted,” Faulkner wrote to the Review Board. “How were other students supposed to know about the election for the 2008 treasurer?”
p. Rogers questioned the fact that Faulkner challenged only her election, when another election was also decided by paper ballot.
Senator Matt Skibiak, a junior, is sponsoring a bill that calls the board’s decision regarding the election for vice president for advocacy unconstitutional. It says that in the future, if the impartiality of the board comes into question, a petitioner or respondent should be allowed to request that the dean of students be present at the hearings and give an opinion.