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UA Elects Judboard to Deal with Appeals

Miodrag Circovic--The Tech
Undergraduate Association floor leader Paul T. Oppold '99 runs last night's UA meeting. Oppold's campaign for the office of UA president has recently come under scruitiny.

By May K. Tse
News Editor

At the Undergraduate Association council meeting last night, five new members were elected to the previously inactive Judicial Review Board, and a subsequent motion gave the power to delay the reporting of the 1998 UAelection results until all outstanding complaints were resolved.

Ashwin Viswanathan '98, John Gavenonis '98, Atish R. Babu '01, Jin S. Kim '99, and Caroline Rhim '01 were elected to the board. Viswanathan will serve as the board's chair.

Usually, the outgoing UA President nominates members to the board, but last year's UAPresident, Richard Y. Lee '97, refrained from doing this so that the UAcould revamp the board. However, "because of the time it would take to approve changes, we're electing a new Judicial Review Board which will serve until May 15. Hopefully we will implement a new process for the upcoming year,"said Dedric A. Carter '98, the current UAPresident, who nominated the candidates last night.

The elections to the Judicial Review Board come as the 1998 UAelections are being conducted. Several complaints have been brought before the UAelection commission, but any appeals of those decisions had previously had no outlet since the judicial board had been empty.

UAapproves motion on elections

UA executive committee member Jeremy D. Sher '99 proposed a motion, which was later accepted, that allowed the board to delay releasing the election results until appeals were resolved

"Be it enacted, by the Undergraduate Association assembled in Council, that:No winners be declared in the 1998 elections for any office of the Undergraduate Association, until such time as the Judicial Board of the Undergraduate Association has ruled on all election-related cases filed prior to 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11, 1998," the motion reads.

The motion does impose an upper limit on the amount of time that may be spent resolving any conflicts, however. "A time limit of ten days is in effect. Should the Judicial Board fail to render a decision in any case pending before it by 12:00 a.m. on March 22, 1998, this motion shall expire, and winners of all electoral races shall then be declared according to the usual process," the motion continues.

"This is not going to draw the UAto a halt We're not going to drop the ball on important things because of an election problem,"Sher said.

Commission rulings questioned

The new motion comes as a response to controversial rulings made by election commissioner Seth M. Bisen-Hersh '01 and other members of the election commission.

Edgar H. Martinez '00, election commissioner emeritus, said that there were three main charges and rulings made in regards to the Presidential and Vice Presidential ticket of Paul T. Oppold '99 and Jennifer A. Kelly '99 which "some people felt were extremely unfair and might have biased the election."

In the first ruling, which was made on Saturday, Feb. 21, permitted Oppold to keep his petition signatures even though some of them had been taken while he shared a ticket with Pamela Mukerji '01.

"Ididn't want Paul to be penalized for Pam quitting. Ididn't want him to be at a disadvantage because Pam didn't want to run with him anymore,"said Bisen-Hersh.

"The election commissioner acted without first consulting the rest of the commission. It was within his powers to do so, and the commission tacitly agreed with his decision,"Martinez said.

Oppold put on probation

In the second ruling, made Monday, Feb. 23, Oppold was put on probation by the election commission in response to complaints that he had been talking about his platform and, in essence, campaigning while getting signatures. The election campaign officially began on Saturday, Feb. 28, after all the signatures are gathered. The UA Election code prohibits candidates from campaigning before that date.

Though Mukerji had gotten 247 signatures and Oppold had taken down 680 signatures by then, which was well over the 440 signature requirement, Oppold's new Vice Presidential running mate Kelly continued to get signatures. Oppold thought that the "safest thing to do would be to get 440 new signatures just in case the decision was reversed or appealed."

However, with only a few days left and Oppold on probation, which prevented him from getting additional signatures, Kelly only obtained an extra 103 signatures. Nevertheless, the fact that the Oppold-Kelly ticket turned in over 1000 signatures instead of the 440 required raised some eyebrows.

The third ruling, made on Sunday, Mar. 1, was approved an e-mail message sent to the Baker House social mailing list, as well as to the people who had given their usernames when they signed Oppold's petition. The e-mail was sent on Saturday, Feb. 28.

"I think the election commission was correct in their ruling to allow the mass e-mail. For example, the Baker social mailing list was appropriate since Jen served as Vice President of Baker and ran for Baker President,"Oppold said.

"As for the list, Icompiled [it] from my signature sheets,"said Oppold, "The sheets state, Add your username only if you would like to be on an election update list.'"

If any party decides to appeal these decisions before 6 p.m. tomorrow, the new motion enables the judicial board to postpone releasing the election results until Mar. 22.

"The thing I really want is for [the] elections to be the choice of the students. There's bickering in the UAbut it should be the opinion of the students expressed through voting," said Oppold. "I don't want the president chosen by the Judicial Review Board, and their ruling could have that effect," said Oppold.