The results for the Undergraduate Student Government elections will likely not be released until after spring break—at least 17 days after the election occurred—because the judiciary still needs to hear an appeal made by one of the presidential candidates, according to the acting chief justice for the case.
In an executive session starting at 10 p.m. Tuesday night, the judiciary voted to hear an appeal made by presidential candidate Andrew Stern’s campaign to regain 23 of the 29 votes that were deducted from Stern’s campaign. UConn Student Activities will not release the results of the election until all appeals have been settled. Officially no one in USG knows the results.“Students activities won’t release the results because it could sway the votes of the judiciary,” USG President Dan Byrd said.
The judiciary will meet later this week to determine a later time that all of them can meet to hear the appeal, Justice Gabriel Hack said. The time will likely not be until after spring break due to scheduling conflicts.
“We’re trying to do the best we can to have the most fair and free election possible for the student body,” Deputy Chief Justice Wambui Gatheru said. (Gatheru is acting chief justice on all election matters because Stern is both chief justice and a presidential candidate.)
When asked if there was any precedent for the delay in the votes being released, Gatheru declined to comment.
Voting for this year’s election occurred March 1 and 2. Last year’s USG presidential results were released the day after the election concluded, Byrd said.
The 23 votes were deducted from Stern’s campaign for actions of individuals in support of his campaign but that were not organized by his campaign. Stern was found not guilty on all charges, but the judiciary did rule that the actions created an unfair advantage for Stern.
The judiciary deducted 22 votes from Stern's campaign for a post in the Facebook group of co-ed business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi that claimed to be offering party invitations to students who cast their vote for Stern. The offered party was put on by Stern’s fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi. The judiciary found that Rachel Leaverton, who made the post, was not directed to do so by Stern's campaign. AEPi’s president put out a statement on Sunday saying no invitations were offered for these votes.
Another vote was deducted because an individual, who was not on the Stern campaign roster, was deemed to have created an unfair election environment when advocating for Stern next to technology that was being used for voting purposes.
“I’m glad they’re hearing my appeal and I hope the process would be done as efficiently and as quickly as possible,” Stern said.
Stern said it was “ridiculous” that the process would take so long but maintained that his campaign was doing the right thing standing by the appeal.
“This is not the fault of us filing the appeal,” Stern said. “We filed because we felt the decision was unjust. So no, (we will not withdraw the appeal). At this point it’s a matter of process, not a matter of the justness of the appeal.”
USG Vice President Irma Valverde, Stern’s opponent in the race, noted that all of the results of the senate races and the comptroller race were being delayed because of the presidential race.
“I hope the other ticket will take some time to consider other people’s feelings and positions in USG,” Valverde said.
For clarity’s sake: only one USG senate race is competitive. Six candidates are vying for five seats to represent the School of Engineering. No other senate race has more candidates than open seats. The comptroller race is also competitive, with two candidates.
“I think students want this to be over, but I trust the judiciary to make the right choice and I won’t challenge them on that,” Byrd said. “
Engineering senate candidate Adomous Wright (who is in that single competitive senate race) said shortly after the judiciary’s decision that the “constant” cases by each ticket accusing the other of campaign violations have made USG look bad.
“It is unfair to the other candidates who have to wait over two weeks to officially know the results of the election,” Wright said. “USG needs that time to turn over newly elected officials so that it can continue the work of the previous office holders and address the issues that students face.”
President Byrd added that it’s unlikely 23 votes will make the difference in the results. In the race for student trustee on the other part of the ballot (results of which were acquired and released by the Daily Campus), 4234 votes were cast.
Update 1:40 p.m. March 8, 2017
This story was updated to show that the party invitations were to an Alpha Epsilon Pi party and that AEPi's president put out a statement in regards to the matter. An earlier version of the story claimed that the party was a Delta Sigma Pi party.
Chris McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.