Grievances Delay Election Results

By Regina Ip and Rebecca Horwitz

A.S. election results were delayed for a record three days due to 25 elections grievances filed against various slates and referenda campaigns. Grievances are formal complaints filed against any member or action that has violated election bylaws.

Election results were scheduled to be announced at 5:30 p.m. on April 8, but instead the elections committee, candidates and campaigners, waited until 3:30 a.m. hoping to hear the results. Of the 25 grievance decisions, seven were appealed to the A.S. Judicial Board for hearing on April 10.

The extended grievance process caused tensions to run high between members of the Students First! slate — which filed 10 of the 25 grievances — and members of other slates, who felt that some of the grievances were unnecessary.

At approximately 2 a.m. on April 9, members from We Are Tritons, Tritons First! and Board the Wing convened with four members of Students First! to discuss the grievances and the motivation behind them. Presidential candidates Ryan O’Rear, Alyssa Wing and Parminder Sandhu and Vice President of Finance candidate Lynne Swerhone asked the members about their motivations and whether they were trying to disqualify the other slates.

According to O’Rear, historically, the only reasons for appealing for a decision are to ask for apology or disqualification and since the decisions Students First! appealed originally called for an apology, some members of the other slates felt Students First! were calling for their disqualification.

According to Vice President of External Affairs candidate Victor Flores-Osorio of Students First!, his answers to the questions — that the slate wanted to ensure that elections laws were being upheld, campaigns were accountable and all results were fair — were not satisfactory to the other candidates.

“I answered as truthfully as possible and they didn’t like it,” Flores-Osorio said. “They didn’t want that answer — they insisted on other answers.”

At approximately 3:30 a.m., Judicial Board chair Polina Tsvetikova announced that the board would reconvene at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 10 to hear the appeals. As per elections bylaws, results cannot be announced until after all grievances and appeals have been settled and ratified by the sitting A.S. President. As a result, the elections committee said the results would be announced Monday morning.

Election committee members said they would not comment on the grievances until the entire process was completed.

On April 10, the Judicial Board began hearings at 8 p.m. Before the board could proceed, it deliberated removing judicial board member Sarmad Bokhari from a particular case. Students, including Marshall Student at Large Justice
Advocate candidate Courtney Hill, alleged that he had a conflict of interest because his Facebook profile picture displayed a Students First! flyer.

The board concluded that Bokhari was not a member of and would not testify for Students First!, so he remained a voting member.

As hearings began, Tsvetikova sad that each party would be allowed a maximum of 10 minutes to speak, no matter the number of witnesses.

The first appeal was brought to the board because Students First! campaign manager Leslie Manjarrez said a verbal apology from the Tritons First! slate — the decision mandated by the elections committee — was insufficient punishment for omitting “Vote on TritonLink” from campaign posters.

Manjarrez requested that the hearing be closed because of harassment against her slate. Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Desiree Prevo said that several Students First! members received harassing phone calls from members of Board the Wing and Tritons First! In addition, Prevo said disparaging remarks were made about the slate on and on Facebook.

“I don’t feel safe when folks have been harassing my slate,” Manjarrez said.

Students from other slates disagreed over whether to close the meeting; the Judicial Board decided that the hearing would be private to all but the witnesses. It called in Students First! campuswide senatorial candidate Olivia Cancino to witness.

After a 40-minute hearing, the board upheld the elections committee’s ruling.

The second appeal was brought to the floor because Student Affirmative Action Committee Vice Chair Josue Castellon said a verbal apology from Tritons First! was insufficient action for the slate having hung a campaign poster at Center Hall.

Castellon also requested a closed hearing. Students First! presidential candidate Jasmine Phillips then called in.

At 10:45 p.m., the board overturned the committee decision and called a hearing between the two slates to go over the evidence again.

Tsvetikova said the rehearing was closed to the public and each slate could bring in three members. Neither slate was allowed to introduce new evidence.

The board decided that Tritons First! must write “sorry” on a poster as punishment.

Judicial board member Arianna Peregretti commented on the discussions going in the room.

“There’s a lot of disrespect in this room,” Peregretti said. “This is too much. I see the line of segregation and it’s disgusting — it’s not respectful.”

The board introduced the third appeal, but held it off to deliberate. At press time, only two of the appeals had concluded. The following appeals were slated to take place after 12 a.m. on April 11.

The third and fourth appeals were from Students First! against the elections committee’s decisions with Board the Wing. One of the appeals was an issue that was voided by the elections committee and the other found Board the Wing guilty, though there were no sanctions.

“If they can’t follow election rules, how are they going to handle a multimillion dollar budget?” Eleanor Roosevelt College Students First! senatorial candidate Bruno Huizar said.

The fifth appeal was between GSA political science representative Jeffrey Kwong and the elections committee’s decision that the No Fee Hike Committee was dorm storming by placing fliers underneath doors of residential dorms.

The sixth appeal is A.S. Election Manager Senam Payendah against the election committee’s decision to invalidate the University Centers referendum. The seventh appeal is the University Centers fee pro-campaign against the election committee’s decision to invalidate the UCEN fee.

Readers can contact Regina Ip at [email protected].

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