Elections ‘Unfair,’ Candidates Say
By Sona Patel
Although a formal announcement of next year’s ASUCI Executive and Legislative Council members was made on May 4, executive vice presidential candidate Tammy Nguyen and vice presidential candidate of student services Ji Son are battling with ASUCI over their disqualification from the ASUCI spring elections.
According to ASUCI President Sammi Shaaya and Executive Vice President Christina Gagnier, the grounds for their disqualifications proposed by the Elections Commission were in accordance to Section C of Article XVII of the ASUCI Elections Code, which states that financial statements, including all expenditures made by the candidate for their campaign, should be submitted on Monday of fourth week at 12 p.m.
According to the Elections Code, the statement must include ‘original receipts for all purchases made for the campaign, a detailed list of all donated money, supplies or materials and any discounted or previously owned materials or services that are used in the course of the candidate’s campaign.’
Each candidate, whether they win or lose the election, is required to turn in a financial statement for public viewing. Nguyen and Son both would have won the election since they had more votes than their opponents.
According to ASUCI President Sammi Shaaya, Nguyen and Son both failed to turn in all of their receipts, prompting the ASUCI Elections Commission to disqualify them.
The Elections Commission that made the decision to remove Nguyen and Son from the election is composed of Christina Gagnier, who serves as deputy commissioner of compliance, and two student commissioners, Gill Gonzalez and Virit Bhutani.
Each candidate must attend a mandatory orientation meeting conducted by the Elections Commissioner at which time the Elections Code and campaigning rules are fully reviewed.
When asked about the disqualification of both Nguyen and Son, Gagnier was unsympathetic.
‘If you can’t read or hear then maybe you missed the fact that you need to turn in all your expenditures,’ Gagnier said. ‘Those two made a mistake.’
Son claims that she did not submit the receipt for a wireless card she had borrowed for the elections because she had not made the payment yet and thus did not have an actual receipt.
‘I did not have the receipt so there was nothing to show,’ Son said. ‘I submitted every receipt I could get my hands on.’
Son believes that the explanation she received from ASUCI for her disqualification does not adhere to the policies stated in the Elections Code.
‘We turned in all our receipts on time which is not grounds for disqualification,’ Son said. ‘We have a solid case if we took this to court.’
Nguyen, who was missing a receipt she never turned in, is particularly disappointed that the student body is not aware of the situation.
‘The student body was not aware of the results because ASUCI did not even make the vote count public,’ Nguyen said. ‘They should at least know about this.’
Nguyen and Son both believe that Gagnier and the Elections Commission favored particular candidates during the election and thus had a negative bias towards them.
Nguyen and Son are also upset about the way that they were notified about their disqualification.
‘We were never formally notified that we were out of the election,’ Nguyen said. ‘Someone told us. They should at least e-mail … that should be a requirement more than a courtesy.’
Nguyen also said they were never given a chance to speak to the ASUCI Judicial Board about the matter.
Both of them are debating on taking legal action right now, as well as trying to educate the campus about the situation.
Vice Chair of Judicial Board Jason Nall is confident that the current elections process is fair.
‘The system is pretty secure and we try to keep it as fair as possible,’ Nall said. ‘It is unfortunate that they were disqualified but they did not follow the rules.’
Despite Nall’s statements, Nguyen and Son never had a formal hearing with Judicial Board and thus a collective Judicial Board decision was never reached.
Winners from the election include Gabriel Ayass for president, Alexander Fuqua for executive vice president, Adam Boothby for vice president of student services, Geoffrey Enriquez for student services vice president and Raymond Giang for administrative affairs vice president.
Ballot measures like the SOAR Referendum that was supposed to increase student fees by three dollars a quarter failed to pass.