Petition Filed Against Elections Manager

The A.S. Judicial Board convened to hear a petition filed against A.S. Elections Manager Vince Vasquez on April 23. The petition was filed by Matthew Bechtel, who ran for A.S. commissioner of programming in the recent A.S. elections.

Bechtel officially withdrew his complaint at the hearing after Vasquez failed to appear.

“”I was never informed of [the hearing],”” Vasquez said. “”No one ever contacted me. I actually was waiting every day for news about this, when we were going to have a hearing. No one ever called me, Anna never told me, I never got an e-mail.””

The petition alleged that Vasquez failed to treat all candidates equally in the election.

“”This complaint is brought forth against Vince Vasquez for unfair and biased actions toward candidates not running within a slate,”” Bechtel stated in his petition.

Vasquez expressed that he didn’t feel that he personally should have been called to judicial board.

“”Matt’s issues aren’t really with me, they’re with just the general A.S. elections and how they’re run,”” Vasquez said.

Before the election, Vasquez changed elections policy to omit slate names from the ballot. He later decided that slate names would be included. Bechtel’s complaint was that he decided not to participate in a slate based on Vasquez’s original decision to omit slate names from the ballot.

Vasquez legally changed the elections policy to exclude slate names from the ballot before candidate filing began.

“”After I took everything into consideration, I thought it was in the best interest of the A.S. elections that that be changed,”” Vasquez said. “”I made this decision in complete accordance with the election bylaws.””

“”Unfortunately, he didn’t mention that slate names would not appear on the ballot until after the candidates’ meeting,”” said Assistant A.S. Elections Manager Cristina Villegas.

A.S. Secretary Anna Mason sent out an e-mail after the candidates’ meeting, reaffirming what Vasquez thought everyone already knew.

“”The e-mail basically said, ‘If you didn’t already know,’ because I thought everyone knew, ‘slate names won’t be allowed on the ballot,'”” Vasquez said.

Many candidates expressed that they had not been previously informed of the change.

Vasquez changed his decision to omit slate names from the ballot after an uproar from candidates on slates who had not been informed of Vasquez’s original decision.

“”There was talk of impeachment,”” Villegas said. “”[Slate members] were about to file violations against Vince because he hadn’t publicized the change.””

Vasquez said impeachment was not an option.

“”I think the whole impeachment thing is completely unfounded,”” Vasquez said. “”There aren’t even any guidelines for that.””

Bechtel filed his petition March 23. According to A.S. bylaws, the judicial board has 16 academic days to hear such petitions. Outgoing A.S. President Doc Khaleghi appointed Warren student Cori Hall as chair of the judicial board.

The judicial board convened on the 16th day, April 23. Hall and representatives from Marshall, Muir, Roosevelt and Warren colleges were present at the hearing.

Bechtel proposed three possible resolutions in his petition. One was to uphold the original decision to omit slate names from the ballot. Another was to reopen filing to allow all candidates to decide again whether to be on a slate and begin the campaign period over. The third was to allow independent candidates the space on the ballot allotted for slate names for their own advertising.

According to Bechtel, Vasquez tentatively agreed to the third proposed solution, then later informed Bechtel that it could not be done.

“”[Bechtel] was pretty irate and I just wanted to get through everything he addressed,”” Vasquez said. “”I told him I’ll go with it, as long as it didn’t arise controversy.””

Bechtel said that Vasquez told him he would allow use of the space unless he found that it violated election bylaws.

“”He has still not informed me of any violation this resolution might cause, yet he turned it down anyway,”” Bechtel stated in his petition.

Vasquez decided based on precedent that the space could not be used as a free speech space.

“”[The space] had never been used as a free speech space,”” Vasquez said. “”[Bechtel] wanted a second chance for his own personal campaign. I was looking at it in terms of that it wasn’t in the best interest of the election. I was following precedent.””

Because Bechtel withdrew his petition, no judicial action was taken.

“”I think if Matt’s claim had gone through, it had a chance of nullifying the election,”” Villegas said.

No other candidates filed petitions regarding the issue.

Vasquez has since submitted legislation to amend the election bylaws.

“”If candidates have information that they want to get out to the students, the only place that should be considered for that is the candidate statement,”” Vasquez said. “”I amended one of the bylaws to say ‘no other candidate information is to appear on the ballot.'””

The newly elected A.S. Council will decide on Vasquez’s submitted legislation Wednesday. All members of the newly elected council ran on the Unity slate.

“”I just hope that the Unity slate has the ability to be open-minded in the review of Mr. Vasquez’s pending legislation,”” Bechtel said. “”He has a difficult task considering that all of next year’s council ran on, and probably won as a result of, slate names being listed in the A.S. election ballot.””

Vasquez said he will fight for his legislation.

“”If they don’t approve it, I’ll push it,”” Vasquez said. “”If they do want to keep slate names or they want to have free speech space, I will immediately file legislation to make it free speech space. It has to be formalized one way or the other.””

In a statement made at the hearing, Bechtel said, “”The continuation of this judicial board hearing would be pointless, if not detrimental to the future of the A.S. election process. The damage has been done and this judicial board has no possible way of fixing it. In retrospect, Mr. Vasquez knows what he has done is wrong, and I feel his pending legislation is an attempt at making it right.””

Hall responded.

“”J-Board has decided not to issue an advisory opinion,”” Hall said. “”Due to the withdrawal of the complaint, the case is dismissed.””

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