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UA Presidential Election to Be Rerun Because of Violations

By FrankDabek

The election for Undergraduate Association president and vice president has been declared void and will be re-run as a result of a judicial review board ruling on an anonymously filed appeal. The board found that Paul T. Oppold '99 violated election rules by sending mass e-mail, tainting the election results.

The results of the other UA elections were, however, released after the board finished its deliberations. Pooja Shukla '99, Elsie Huang '00, and Andrew D. Montgomery '01 were victorious in their respective class presidential races.

In a letter addressed to the UA, the judicial review board called Oppold's mass mailings "inappropriate" and found them in violation of election procedures which state that e-mail may be sent only to personal acquaintances.

"There is probable cause that Oppold's two mass e-mailingsŠ could have influenced the integrity of the election results," the letter said.

Oppold said that he expected the board to ask that the election to be re-run but said that he "was surprised that they used my mass e-mails" as grounds to declare the election null and void. The board also addressed the methods by which Oppold obtained signatures and the validity of his original petition but recommended that no actions be taken on those points.

Oppold criticizes review board

Oppold also questioned the impartiality of the review board. He called the whole process "last-minute" and said, "[It's] almost like there is a conspiracy to get certain people to win."

Oppold noted that all of those serving on the board were nominated by UA President Dedric A. Carter '98 who is a former running mate of one of Oppold's opponents - Sandra C.Sandoval '00.

"Dedric hand-picked the man to be head of the judicial [board]," Oppold said. The review board is normally chosen by the outgoing UA president in order to maintain a division of power between the branches of government.

Carter, however, said that he "tried to stay as impartial as possible" in choosing the board and selected individuals who were removed from the issue. "Any question of improprietyŠ is ridiculous," Carter said.

Ashwin Viswanathan '98, chair of the board, said, "I believe that the committee was impartial." He stated that all of the members of the board knew Dedric but were not close friends with him. "None of the members of the Judicial review Board knew of the existence of these appeals when we were nominated," he said.

Jun S. Kim '99, who served on the board, said that the board was "a good mix of people" and said that the board was "fair for all parties." Kim said that she "didn't even think" about the link between Carter and Sandoval.

Oppold questioned whether election results influenced the board's decision. Oppold said that if he had lost the election by a large margin he believed that no re-election would have been held. Carter, however, said that the board had no knowledge of the results of the original election.

New election planned

A new election has been planned and will begin April 1 with a meeting between candidates and voters. Adebate will be held April 2 and balloting will take place from Friday, April 3, until Wednesday of the next week.

There will be no paper balloting for the new election, and no e-mail campaigning will be allowed. "E-mail, under any circumstances, cannot be sent by a candidate," said Jeremy D. Sher '98, a member of the UA executive committee.

One hundred dollars, out of the 400 available to candidates for campaigning, will be subsidized by the UA, Sher said. The "UA is recognizing that we screwed up," he said.

The board's decision had recommended reimbursing candidates for the original election, but the executive committee decided to reimburse them in the upcoming election instead. "A candidate ought to be able to run a decent campaign with [100 dollars]," Sher said.

According to UA Executive Committee member Ryan K. Pierce '99, no "direct sanctions" will be leveled against Oppold, despite the recommendation of the board to do so. We want to "leave sanctions up to the voters," Pierce said.

Oppold responds to decision

Oppold took issue with some of the board's decisions. "I thought that I had legally gotten around" the rules against mass mailing, he said. Oppold placed a disclaimer on his petition which asked them to add their e-mail addresses only if they wished to receive campaign mail.

Oppold also that "my idea of a petition drive and the judicial board's idea of a petition drive differ." The review board questioned several of Oppold's actions during the petition period. "What I really wanted to do was gain support," during the petition drive he said.

UA election rules regarding petition drives are murky. Election rules state that "Candidates may not begin campaigning, except for petition drives, until three days after their petitions are turned into the election commissioner."

"I'm very confident going into the new elections," Oppold said.