Last night, the Elections Committee disqualified Students’ Association presidential candidate and junior Ilana Kaplan-Shain following numerous alleged by-law infractions. As a result of her dismissal, the Elections Committee decided to nullify this past week’s SA presidential election in order to give all students a fair opportunity to vote for one of the three remaining candidates. None of the other elections were affected.According to the Elections Committee, the alleged violations are a result of changing the default homepages of computers in the ITS Center and Ed Tech Center to her campaign Web site and posting campaign advertisements on their desktops. Kaplan-Shain willingly admitted to this method of campaigning but does not believe that it was an infraction of the election by-laws and intends to file an appeal with the All Campus Judicial Council to change the Elections Committee’s ruling. “I did not believe that my actions would be a violation,” Kaplan-Shain said. “If I thought it would bias students’ votes I would not have done it. I wanted the election to be as fair as possible.”The Elections Committee believes that Kaplain-Shain violated multiple sections of the election by-laws. The violations include removing publicity for upcoming events, which the Elections Committee believes was a result of changing the default Web sites, which were set to the UR homepage. Additionally, the Elections Committee found that in changing these homepages and going against the spirit of the ITS policy, Kaplan-Shain did not follow university policies pertinent to the election and campaigning. Because ITS does not have an expressly written policy against changing settings, Kaplan-Shain does not agree that this is a violation. The most significant infraction can be found in Chapter 5, Section 6 of the by-laws. “Candidates may not attempt to influence a voter’s decision while that student is in the process of voting,” it states. “This is the most egregious of all violations,” the Elections Committee wrote in an official memo. “For an individual to vote at [ITS Center] they must open Internet Explorer. In the process, voters are immediately exposed to an extremely imposing Web site.” This induces support for Kaplan-Shain’s campaign.”The Elections Committee must prove that a significant minority of voting IP addresses came from the ITS Center,” Kaplan-Shain argued in opposition of the Elections Committee. “Students would have to redirect to a different site to vote, so I’m not influencing people ‘while’ they vote. I believe that allowing campaign flyers in ITS Center, which was done by Matt Goldblatt and Pete Nabozny, merits disqualification as well under the Elections Committee’s standards.”Kaplan-Shain’s final violation was interfering with the general election process. Allegedly, Kaplan-Shain violated the spirit of fairness and misled the Elections Committee about whether the head of ITS had granted her permission to change the default homepage.The Elections Committee – chaired by Senator and senior Mark Dundon and comprised of Senators and juniors Steve D’Amico and Danielle Friedman and freshman James Alexander – learned of the infringement through a student e-mail sent to Dundon. After reviewing the student’s complaint, Dundon spoke with Kaplan-Shain and conferred with the rest of the committee to discuss how to proceed. Kaplan-Shain took action before the Elections Committee intervened. “After hearing I had a potential violation, I self-imposed a penalty,” Kaplan-Shain said. “I stopped campaigning during the crucial last four hours of elections.”Given the timing of the infraction, the Elections Committee had little time to respond and few meaningful options available. “The Elections Committee made the decisions to disqualify Kaplan-Shain and to re-run the election unanimously,” Dundon said. “We want to give all students a chance to have their voice heard in choosing the SA President.””The Elections Committee made an informed and logical choice,” Speaker of the Senate and senior Alex Voetsch said. “I firmly support their actions.”Barring any changes made by a potential ACJC ruling, the new round of elections will be held next Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Since there will only be three official candidates on the ballot, the result of next week’s election will be final. Regardless of write-in votes that Kaplan-Shain may receive, her candidacy is no longer valid and she cannot be elected.If Kaplan-Shain files an appeal, the ACJC will review the request. “An appeal needs to be grounded in constitutional or by-law violations,” ACJC Chief Justice and senior Erica Contini said. “Once we receive a written request for an appeal we decide whether or not to hear the appeal. We will try to work quickly because it is in everybody’s best interest to get this resolved as soon as possible.”Ironically, the current election by-laws were co-authored by Kaplan-Shain during her freshman year, following an appeal with ACJC regarding her first election to the SA Senate. “I showed up to a meeting late and was told that I could not be on the ballot because the meeting was mandatory,” Kaplan-Shain said. “I appealed and won an ACJC hearing because the meeting was not advertised as mandatory and there was not enough notification. As a result, I helped rewrite the election by-laws to make them fair.”Sophomores Matt Goldblatt and Dan Rudolph and junior Pete Nabozny, the three remaining candidates, offered their reflections in response to Wednesday night’s election developments. “As a past election chair I realize how difficult elections can be,” Nabozny said. “This was an unfortunate thing to happen for the election as a whole and Ilana. It is a lose-lose situation. I’m going to do what I can to get beyond these events and work to get people to go out and vote again.”Goldblatt voiced similar sentiments. “This is a very interesting and unfortunate situation for the election and for Ilana’s campaign,” Goldblatt said. “However, I’m confident that the outcome, whatever it may be, will highlight the integrity of the system. I’m also excited by the high voter turnout and I feel that a second election will give people a better chance to get to know me as a candidate.”Dan Rudolph continued the trend of optimism as the campaign evolves. “I’m going to win regardless of whatever occurs,” Rudolph said. “This doesn’t affect my campaign strategy.” As of Wednesday night, the unofficial vote tally was not available on the election’s web site. However, the system did reveal that a runoff election would be necessary as no candidate earned the necessary 50 percent plus one votes to claim victory. Keesing can be reached email@example.com.
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