RUSA election results remain unfinalized due to an abundance of appeals
The preliminary results from the Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) Spring 2018 Election were released last week. Preventing the outcome from being finalized is a set of appeals that are in the process of being heard by the Election Appeals Committee.
Over the course of this year’s election process, RUSA has seen a total of seven appeals, said Viktor Krapivin, the Elections Committee chair and a School of Arts and Sciences senior.
One of those was filed and decided prior to the election, another was filed before the election, has been heard and is awaiting a final decision and five still need to be argued, he said.
“So each year there’s usually a number of appeals, I would say maybe two or three, so this year we’ve had seven,” Krapivin said. “So it’s a little bit higher than usual, but that can also be attributed to the fact that we have four tickets running instead of two.”
What are the appeals?
In an email to The Daily Targum, Krapivin listed out the five appeals still waiting to be heard. They are:
- A candidate from the uKnighted ticket against One Rutgers, in connection with alleged violations of budgetary rules.
- A candidate from the uKnighted ticket against One Rutgers, in connection with a One Rutgers representative candidate allegedly being unqualified to be elected.
- A candidate from the uKnighted ticket against One Rutgers, in connection with a different candidate allegedly being prohibited from running in the election.
- A candidate from the Unscrew RU ticket against uKnighted, in connection with an alleged violation of University policy.
- And a candidate from the Unscrew RU ticket against uKnighted, in connection with an alleged violation of budgetary rules.
The other appeals happened prior to the election, Krapivin said. The first was filed by the Elections Committee against a candidate following probable cause that a violation happened. He said a candidate emailed the Elections Committee claiming to be an executive board member of an organization, and that the organization voted to endorse that candidate’s ticket.
Upon later investigation, it was discovered that what the candidate told the committee was not what had actually occurred, Krapivin said. This caused the committee to vote unanimously to file an appeal against the candidate, and caused the Election Appeals Committee to eventually consider the appeal.
“After considering the issue, the appeals committee asked the candidate if they had anything they wanted to say to defend themself (sic),” Krapivin said. “The candidate admitted responsibility, and afterward the committee considered what sanction they should impose on the candidate — and they decided they should disqualify the candidate.”
The other appeal was also filed before the election but is still awaiting a final decision from the Election Appeals Committee, he said. This appeal was filed by the uKnighted ticked against One Rutgers, in connection with an alleged non-compliance with RUSA’s budgetary rules.
Krapivin said the alleged non-compliance had to do with accepting donations from contributors who were not allowed to donate. In its Elections Code, RUSA outlined rules regarding campaign financing.
“That was the allegation and the Appeals Committee heard that case,” he said.
Arguments were heard last week, a formal consideration happened on Monday and a final decision is expected to be announced soon, Krapivin explained.
What Happens Next?
The current process allows for the person who alleged that a violation occurred to tell the Election Appeals Committee, provide evidence and ask witnesses to testify if needed, Krapivin said. The person who the appeal is filed against can do the same. They are allowed to ask questions, provide evidence and bring a witness if they wish.
“So essentially the same rights are given to both parties,” he said.
The Election Appeals Committee is then charged with issuing a final ruling on the appeal, he said. The only sanctions that the committee is able to issue are a warning and a disqualification from the race.
Krapivin said RUSA members were explicitly against a system which would create other sanctions like a candidate losing a certain percentage of votes, because it could potentially reduce the student voice.
“Candidates have generally not been disqualified in the past, but that’s because disqualification is seen as such a serious punishment,” he said.
He explained that it is rare for a candidate to be disqualified unless explicit proof exists that rules were broken and that breaking the rules had an effect on the outcome of the election. He referenced Article 1, Section F of the Elections Code.
“These rules should be construed so as to administer every election fairly, eliminate unjustifiable expense and delay, and promote the development of fair and accessible student government elections, to the end of promoting undergraduate student issues and securing legitimacy of the student government,” according to the code.
Krapivin said his goal is to certify the results by Thursday if possible. The Election Committee’s deadline is April 10, barring specific order from the Election Appeals Committee to delay the certification of specific candidates.
“So potentially what would happen is some newly-elected members will be in office, I guess before other members if there is delays in appeals, (sic)” he said.
There is a hard deadline three weeks after the election happens, meaning that by April 17 the results have to be finalized regardless, he said.
“I think it would be best if newly-elected members have a chance to be sworn in Thursday evening,” Krapivin said.