Accused Candidates Appeal Disqualification

With the expected release date of April 21 well in the past, ASUCI officials, Elections Commissions and Judicial Board members are now working hard to have results out by the end of the week.

The most recent postings to the ASUCI Web site included the elections decisions of complaints filed against candidates. While most complaints were rendered invalid, both Megan Braun and Anush Patel were disqualified by the Elections Commission.

An unspecified complaint resulted in the disqualification of Braun from her candidacy for the office of president. Braun’s disqualification document cited the combined use of a borrowed table, which was later considered donated, and funds in the amount of $66.34 from Asian Pacific Student Association. The donation value of the table violated the donations cap of $75.00 from any individual organization.

“Geo del Carmen vs. Anush Patel” resulted in the disqualification of Patel from his candidacy for the office of Executive Vice President.

Patel’s disqualification documents cited an offer, sent to 25,793 UC Irvine e-mail addresses, of an opportunity to win Lakers playoff tickets by voting in the election as an inappropriate use of university communications.

According to Elections Commissioner Kelli Chew, she wrote all disqualification documents, with the exception of “Elections DQ-Megan,” which was authored by Executive Vice President Kyle Olney. All elections commission opinions were signed by Olney.

In regards to Patel’s disqualification, Chew states that the cited issues violate the spirit of the Elections Code, in addition to university policy.

“Normally, what we touch on is based on Elections Code, but candidates can get disqualified for breaking university policy … the electronic communications policy specifically warns against using the UCI e-mail system for things that are beyond its scope or purpose,” Chew said.

Patel stated that one ASUCI official performed contradictory actions, which he believes should lead to the disqualification being overturned.

He continued, stating that Olney, a signatory on Patel’s disqualification and voting member of the Elections Commission, requested to participate in the Lakers playoff ticket give-away.

The give-away offered the chance to win Lakers playoff tickets only if proof of voting in the ASUCI elections was submitted to lakers@electanush.com. No other ASUCI representatives were cited as requesting to participate in the give-away.

A screen shot from Patel’s computer shows a message sent from kolney@uci.edu, which according to the UCI directory is an e-mail address registered to Olney, in the inbox of lakers@electanush.com, the e-mail address used by Patel for the giveaway. The text of the message reads: “Sign me up – Kyle.”

At the time of publication Olney could not be reached to comment.

“If he thought my e-mail was grounds for disqualification, why did he participate in my give-away?” Patel said.

In addition to Olney’s participation in his give-away, Patel discussed his opinion that his e-mail does not fall under the category of spam.

“The central part [that] the Elections Commission has failed to acknowledge is that all laws regarding spam are referring to commercial marketing … My endeavor to become executive vice president was non-commercial,” Patel said.

Patel plans to use this evidence as a portion of his case during his judicial board hearing this Monday.

In regards to the disqualification of presidential candidate Braun, Chew was unable to offer detailed information prior to Braun’s judicial board hearing.

According to the ASUCI Web site, the complaint entitled “Elections DQ-Megan” was dated May 4. This is over two weeks after the latest of the rest of the complaints, dated April 13 through April 19.

In a description of her hearing procedure before the Elections Commission, Braun stated that she was not treated according to Elections Commission protocol.

According to Braun, she was given less than 24 hours notice of the hearing, and was not notified of the charges brought against her.

The Elections Code requires that an accused candidate be notified of the charges and be provided the opportunity to respond to these claims in writing.

Braun stated that there was also an ambiguity in the Elections Commission definition of borrowed materials.

“The Financial Statements demonstrate that 13 candidates did not list borrowed materials as donated items with a monetary value. There was no standard on this matter before the Financial Statements were turned in so enforcing an interpretation after the fact is an ex post facto application of the rule and therefore invalid,” Braun said in her appeal to the Judicial Board.

Braun further suggested that Elections Commission’s complaints and minutes be made public after the decision is made in order to provide accountability.

“The complaint against me should have been made public; I should know who filed it and who turned it in,” Braun said.

Currently, the original complaint responsible for Megan’s disqualification is not included in the disqualification document, “Elections DQ-Megan.”

Allen Haroutounian, chief justice of the ASUCI Judicial Board hopes that Monday’s hearings will run more smoothly than those of the Elections Commission.

“We hold the hearings according to a protocol on the ASUCI Web site; the petitioner and Elections Commissioner have a chance to be heard. When the hearing is over, we decide [the outcome] in closed quarters. My plan is to do it after the Monday night hearing,” Haroutounian said.

Patel’s hearing will be held at 6:00 p.m. on Monday before the Judicial Board, while Braun’s hearing will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday.