After an Associated Students judicial hearing on Friday and four hours of deliberation, there is still no clear winner in the A.S. presidential election, but more questions have been raised.
During the hearing, a ballot was discussed concerning a voter who was contacted by Hal Ellison, the A.S. attorney general, to clarify how that voter intended to vote. The court decided to count the vote.
When it comes to voter anonymity “there’s nothing in the policy,” said Mazen Hofez, director of elections.
“We could’ve contacted all 232 online voters,” said Adam Haverstock, A.S. presidential candidate and current president. Haverstock wanted the vote thrown out, along with all run-off votes, which he said put unfair pressure on the hearing.
“In mere coincidence our attorney general knew who this person was,” said Hofez. Hofez represented Ellison during the hearing, since Ellison was absent.
The voter in question, Joel Stone, is a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and Hal Ellison, also member of the fraternity, had Stone’s phone number. Ellison called Stone to clarify whom he voted for.
This was the only ballot where a voter was contacted.
Miguel Segura, the presidential candidate against Haverstock is also a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity, and said the fact that Ellison and Segura are in the same fraternity did not play a part during the elections or decisions about them.
The election that took place on April 8 and 9 was a tie at first, and a recount found an 811 to 805 result in favor of the Students First slate. There was still a run-off election because, as stated by A.S. officials, the required number of votes to win had to be 813. This was because the winner had to win with 50 percent of the total votes plus one, and there were 1623 total votes.
A complaint was filed by Alex Shahin on behalf of himself and Haverstock, which argued that the total number of votes needed to be reduced due to ballots that should be voided (and therefore taken out of the grand total of votes) and certain write-in votes should count for their slate.
The A.S. Judicial Court ruled in favor of the defendant (Ellison and Hofez) on Friday in a hearing where the court heard Adam Haverstock and Alex Shahin’s complaint. One of the parts of their complaint had to do with write-in votes.
Write-in ballots have sparked a lot of discussion for the elections committee and Associated Students during this year’s A.S. presidential election.
Shahin’s complaint states, “all write-in votes that were either vote Adam or (Shahin) should be counted towards (their) total slate count.” As it stands, voters who wrote in a single name in the “write in” section of the ballot will only have their ballot count for that individual, not the slate.
A write-in vote for Segura, for example, would be a vote for Segura for president, but not a vote for Nicole Umali (his running mate) for vice president.
Also, if a voter checked off the Student’s First slate, but then wrote in “Alex Shahin” in the write-in section, that ballot would count as a vote for Shahin for president. This is because whatever is written in the “write in” section counts more than any check mark on the ballot. This is because of rules that Hofez created while recounting the votes.
“(The voters) don’t know that writing in a vote will discount their vote,” said Shahin.
“We had a meeting of the minds,” said Hofez, after which he and two other A.S. officials decided on what rules the ballot counting would follow for the recount. “I think the first problem came around ballot 100,” he said.
Counting write-in votes in ways like this was decided on because “there is no way to determine a voter’s intent,” said Hofez.
Shahin’s response to Hofez’s remark was that they were already determining voter intent by counting the write-in as more important than the check mark.
Each slate had a representative at the recount and was told about the rules once they were made, and the rules were made as they went along with the recount, Hofez said.
“Just because we were told doesn’t mean we agreed with it,” said Haverstock.
During the recount, it was also determined that where a check mark started would determine who the voter voted for, instead of where a check mark ends.
Hofez said that these were not rules in any rulebook, but ones he had to make up in order to sort through the ballots during the recount.
Hofez said Haverstock was trying to abuse the system by doing things with this election that only someone in his position of power could do.
Haverstock’s response was “You could make that claim against any A.S. member running for any office.” He then added that everything he has done during his presidency has been done as a president, not a presidential candidate.
There is another judicial hearing scheduled for this Friday to determine if Haverstock and the Student’s First slate will be declared the winner. If the slate’s appeal is denied, Hofez said they would count the run-off election ballots after the hearing.