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Make Michigan candidates win Central Student Government election

By Kristen Fedor, Daily Staff Reporter
Published April 1, 2014

The results are in.

Public Policy junior Bobby Dishell and LSA sophomore Meagan Shokar of Make Michigan will be the CSG president and vice president, respectively, for the 2014-2015 academic year.

The results come five days after polls closed for the March 26-27 Central Student Government elections. Dishell and Shokar won with 3,937 votes cast in their favor, beating out their next-closest competitors — FORUM candidates Carly Manes, a Public Policy junior, and LSA junior Pavitra Abraham — by more than 1,000 votes.

Dishell is the current CSG vice president and Shokar currently serves as speaker of the CSG assembly. Both candidates emphasized their experience in executive positions as a strength of their ticket during the campaign period.

After receiving the news, Dishell congratulated his supporters for their collective effort.

“All the credit goes to this team,” Dishell said. “We couldn’t be more proud of everyone.”

CSG President Michael Proppe, a Business senior, a large supporter of Dishell and Make Michigan, attended the party’s makeshift event.

“He’s been right at my side the entire time this year,” Proppe said. “I’m really excited to see what they’re going to do next year.”

Six complaints filed with the University Elections Commission delayed the release of results, but each case was either resolved or dropped by Tuesday afternoon. The rulings had negligible impact on the official results of the election.

The complaint with the greatest potential consequence was dropped on Monday when Make Michigan officially withdrew its suit against FORUM for alleged abuse of e-mail privileges.

Make Michigan filed the complaint against its rival party after LSA junior Domenic Rizzolo, outreach co-director for FORUM, sent a campaigning e-mail using a listerv he did not own. If the UEC had ruled FORUM guilty, the party would have faced demerits for each recipient of the e-mail in question. The total accumulation of demerits would have exceeded limits outlined in the election code and resulted in the disqualification of each FORUM candidate.

After further reviewing the case, Dishell concluded that Rizzolo’s e-mail would have had marginal impact on the election itself and decided to withdraw his suit. In a statement sent out to all candidates announcing the withdrawal, Dishell said he wanted to avoid the hostile environment and unproductive intra-CSG rivalries created by a lengthy litigation process. He added that he filed the official complaint initially to uphold the provisions of the election code.

“You can always withdraw, just like we did,” Dishell said. “But I can’t, after the fact, go back and say, I really wish we had filed this.”

The official complaints regarding alleged campaign finance infractions by FORUM, the Party Party and the House of Cards Party were upheld and addressed in a UEC hearing Monday evening. Business senior Matthew Fernandez, rep-manager for Make Michigan, filed the complaint on behalf of Make Michigan, citing failure to publish receipts on campaign finance forms as a major infraction.

Dishell said these cases, in contrast to the alleged e-mail misuse, could have had an impact on voting. He said possible overspending could have created an unfair advantage.

In an official ruling released Tuesday, the UEC found all three parties guilty of the infraction, but reduced the punishment outlined in the election code. While a major infraction usually calls for three to four demerits per violation, the UEC instead assigned two demerits per party.

The UEC cited miscommunication between candidates and the election director as well as vagueness of the wording of the election code as grounds for reducing the number of demerits assigned for the violation.

In the ruling, the UEC said campaign finance forms provided to candidates did not explicitly contain instructions for receipts that were called for in the code. Additionally, once respondents were made aware of the violation, they provided the appropriate receipts.

These demerits did not affect the outcome of the election in any way. Parties are penalized for demerits until they reach 10, at which point that party is removed from the election entirely.

Law student Bryson Nitta, election director, released a dissenting opinion along with the UEC’s official ruling. Nitta acts as an ex officio member of the UEC and does not vote on official rulings.

Nitta expressed discontent with the demerits assigned to FORUM, the Party Party and the House of Cards Party.

“Candidates and students are not law enforcement officers trained in detecting deceit and fraud,” Nitta wrote.

Manes and Abraham hugged fellow FORUM candidates after receiving the news that they did not win. Manes said their work will not stop despite the election's outcome.

"We wholeheartedly believe that titles don't really give you any extra power," Manes said. "If students believe in doing things, they can get things done just by their own motivation and their own personal drive and passion because they care about things.”


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