UA Halts Race For President
Council Elections To Continue as Planned
associate news editor
In response to discrepancies in the election process, the Undergraduate Association Judicial Board has indefinitely suspended the UA Presidential and Vice Presidential elections.
JudBoard announced the suspension and the cessation of campaigning for the suspended elections in a statement released Friday morning. Students will vote again on a new ballot which will include all four candidates.
However, according to the statement, class council and Finance Board elections will proceed as planned.
This decision to suspend the presidential election overrules the election commission’s prior removal of the Christopher D. Smith ’01 and Patrick Kane ’03 ticket from the UA ballot as a result of the team’s excessive campaign poster violations.
“There are good people on both the election commission and JudBoard. This is how government works,” Smith said.
Judboard decided to begin the election anew with Smith and Kane on the ballot, but sanctions will be levied on Smith and Kane and possibly other candidates.
Judboard took over the decision process as a result of an appeal by Smith after his removal from the ballot. Smith stated that he was surprised by the commission’s findings that he was in violation of the election code.
“The other candidates had been accused of putting their posters in the wrong places. To the best of our knowledge, we didn’t have any problems with our posters,” Smith said.
Poster provoked punishment
“If there was a way of keeping them on the ballot while maintaining the integrity of the rules, we would have done it,” said election commission member Sarah L. McDougal ’00.
According to McDougal, the election commission’s major reasons for removing the team were excessive postering of Next House and Smith’s use of his name at the top of posters advertising a speaking engagement by Congressman John Linder from Atlanta, Georgia.
Vice Presidential candidate Jason H. Wasfy ’01 also felt that the Linder posters were particularly egregious.
“Chris Smith shouldn’t have tried to disguise his campaign posters as advertising a speech with Congressman Linder,” said Wasfy. “That was deceptive and that was wrong.”
Wasfy emphasized that candidates are given seven chances before being thrown off of the ballot because every candidate will inevitably make a few mistakes.
Wasfy believes that Smith and Kane’s postering violations were ample reason for them to be thrown off of the ballot.
“I think that it’s a hard situation because we need to have rules, but I hate to see people thrown off the ballot because of a few simple violations,” said Wasfy. He said, however, that he did not believe that many of the violations committed by Smith and Kane were small issues.
Other students did not agree with Smith and Kane’s removal from the ballot. “I think that these were only minor infractions, and were not totally against the spirit of the campaign,” said Scott D. Schneider G. He cited “red tape” as the primary reasons for the team’s removal.
“They did make us aware of the rules. If we had done those things, then they would be justified in kicking us out,” Smith said.
Rule violations led to removal
Under the current system, candidates are given points for each postering violation that they commit. The election code and point system was detailed in a packet given to each candidate at the beginning of the process.
Candidates are notified of the nature of each violation and the number of points assigned. Most violations are assigned a predetermined number of points, but the election commission decides how to assign points for unexpected violations.
When a candidate has more than seven points, the election commission votes on whether or not to remove him from the ballot. Smith and Kane were charged with 11 points for postering violations and the election commission decided to remove them from the ballot.
Poster tampering raised concerns
This year, candidates raised allegations of poster tampering. “I never thought that a candidate would try to sabotage another candidate’s campaign,” said McDougal.
“Jennifer and I have been penalized a few times for violations which I didn’t think that we were responsible for,” Wasfy said.
Presidential candidate Peter Shulman also noted that several posters of his were moved in an attempt to earn them campaign violations.
“Personally, I saw posters that were put up for Peter and Mendel that had obviously been taken down. Who did this and why they did it is unknown,” McDougal said.
As a result of this poster tampering, election commissioner Zhelinrentice L. Scott ’00 declared that all candidates must remove their posters by 12 a.m. Tuesday morning. Candidates who neglected to remove all of their posters were penalized one point.
Wasfy strongly agreed with the mandated removal of UA campaign posters. “In some ways posters hinder a meaningful discussion of the issues,” he said.
Rima Arnaout contributed to the reporting of this story.