History shows judiciary involved in many USG elections

In the last 6 years, the only time the USG judiciary has not been involved in a spring election was in 2015 when Rachel Conboy (above) ran unopposed for the seat of president. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

The Undergraduate Student Government judiciary has been involved in five of the last six USG spring elections. The exception is 2015, when the presidential candidate ran unopposed.

The Daily Campus archives show that in spring elections of recent years, the judiciary frequently reviewed accusations of campaign policy violations that candidates brought against their opponents. The judiciary reviews led to the disqualification of candidates in some cases.

In the 2016 spring elections, the judiciary banned USG presidential candidate Stephanie Sponzo from campaigning during the elections’ first two days; after ruling that Sponzo obtained an unfair campaigning benefit from presenter Michael Kimmel’s endorsement at “Man Up,” a USG-funded lecture about masculinity on Feb. 16, 2016.

Sponzo and her running mate, Haddiyyah Ali, came in second in the presidential-vice presidential election, behind Daniel Byrd and his running mate Irma Valverde, who are the current president and vice-president.

In the 2015 spring elections, Rachel Conboy ran unopposed for president. Her running mate was Adam Kuegler, who was later elected as undergraduate trustee for the 2016-2017 academic year.

USG worked to prevent the spring elections from concluding with a decision by the judiciary in the 2014-2015 academic year.

The Elections Oversight Committee (EOC) gained Kailee Himes as its director in fall 2014. Himes led the EOC to be on more equal footing with the judiciary in adjudicating disqualification cases.

Himes told The Daily Campus in February 2015 that “In order for someone to be disqualified now, it will run through both the judiciary and EOC.”

The 2014 spring elections concluded with presidential candidate Carlyle Bethel being disqualified for an insufficient attendance record at senate meetings.

A continuous proceeding between presidential candidates Mark Sargent and Bethel marked the elections that year.

UConn received the election results on the night that the polls closed in 2014.

The 2013 spring elections saw the judiciary disqualify presidential candidate Shiv Gandhi. Gandhi would have won by 340 votes if he had not been disqualified.

Gandhi was disqualified after presidential candidate Edward Courchaine and his running mate, Kara Googins, filed charges with the judiciary alleging that Gandhi violated campaign policies against aggressive campaigning.

The USG president at the time, Stephen Petkis, vetoed a bill that USG passed which would have reversed the judiciary’s resolution to disqualify Gandhi.

Gandhi and his running mate, Mark Sargent, appealed the disqualification decision. Judiciary justice Connor Bergen said that election results would be withheld until the Gandhi case was settled.

Courchaine won the election after the judiciary affirmed its choice to disqualify Gandhi. UConn received the election results soon after the judiciary’s decision to uphold Gandhi’s disqualification.

During the 2012 spring elections, Chief of Staff Corey Schmitt accused USG presidential candidates Jordan Hegel and Bryan Flanaghan of violating USG bylaw by using USG computers to work on their campaigns.

The judiciary ultimately reviewed seven cases that year about alleged presidential campaign policy violations. At the close, students elected Stephen Petkis and Jigish Patel to be the next USG president and vice president, respectively.

In the 2011 spring elections, the judiciary released a statement on April 7 which announced that the presidential and vice presidential ticket of Brian Ingmanson and Ali Albini was disqualified. A different statement from the judiciary confirmed that the ticket of Sam Tracy and Lindsay Chiappa won.

The disqualification came after the judiciary considered accusations of campaign policy violations that presidential candidate Vijay Sekhara leveled at his opponents. Sekhara made these allegations on the day that UConn received the unofficial election results.

In the unofficial results, Tracy and Chiappa won, the Ingmanson-Albini ticket came in second and Sekhara and his running mate, Lauren Reinmann, earned third.

Sekhara filed an appeal to overturn the resolution that maintained the Tracy and Chiappa win.

After the judiciary’s hearing of Sekhara’s appeal, Tracy was officially named USG president and Chiappa USG vice president. The judiciary determined that Tracy and Chiappa had committed minor campaign violations, though inadequate evidence of malicious intent existed to merit disqualifying their ticket.

UConn received the unofficial spring election results on April 1; UConn then obtained the official outcomes after ten more days.

In the 2010 spring elections the USG judiciary released the results soon after polls closed. The Daily Campus released the spring election results, provided to them by the judiciary, the day after voting ended. Records show no significant cases went to the judiciary.


Alexandra Retter is staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.retter@uconn.edu.