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2013-03-30

Thursday, November 20, 2014

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UEC throws forUM candidate out of election

By Amrutha Sivakumar, Daily Staff Reporter
and Giacomo Bologna, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 30, 2013

Following hearings over forUM’s alleged financial violations of the election code and cases of influencing students while voting, the University Election Commission announced that LSA junior Chris Osborn and LSA junior Hayley Sakwa, members of forUM who were elected to the presidency and vice presidency, would not be allowed to take office.

Though Osborn and Sakwa had won the elections for CSG president and vice president with a 485 vote plurality, the UEC ruled in favor of youMICH's suit, which accused Osborn of influencing voters.

Ruling on photographic evidence, Osbourne was alleged to have influenced voters in four instances while they were filling ballots. The four violations were awarded two demerits each. Because this surpassed the five allowed per candidate, Osborn and Sakwa were both disqualified from their elected positions.

As a party, forUM was also accused by youMICH of surpassing financial limitations twice, as both Osborn and Sakwa donated $300 to campaigning efforts despite a $150 maximum. The UEC assessed a total of eight demerits towards the forUM party. According to the CSG Compiled Code, a party is allowed less than 10 demerits before disqualification.

As per the verdict, Business junior Michael Proppe and LSA sophomore Bobby Dishell —youMICH executive candidates— would take over the positions as the runner up in the elections, pending an appeal by forUM.

forUM disputed the verdict in a statement, claiming that because Osborn and Sakwa won the elections with a “clear majority,” overthrowing their executive slate would mean disregarding those voters that elected them.

“youMICH party members brought suit against forUM and our presidential candidates in a shameful attempt to silence the voice of these voters,” the statement said. “The students of the University of Michigan will not stand for this outrageous outcome. The voices of 3,413 students will be heard.”

LSA senior Louis Mirante, head of legal matters for forUM, said the suit filed against forUM was a tactical attempt.

“The reason youMICH did this was because they lost the vote but they wanted to win the election by suing us,” he said.

youMICH praised the UEC hearing, noting that the verdict maintained the “integrity of the election process.”

“We are satisfied with the outcome of the University Elections Commission,” the release read. “While it is always unfortunate to see demerits assessed and candidates disqualified, we believe that the provisions of the Election Code have been properly upheld as intended by the Assembly.”

LSA sophomore Laurel Ruza, youMICH’s chair, said she had mixed feelings toward the results of the hearings.

“We are very satisfied with the outcome of the UEC that we received this morning," she said. “It’s definitely unfortunate to see demerits assessed and candidates disqualified.”

But Public Policy senior Alexander Lane, forUM’s communications director, called the results of the UEC hearings “shameful” and said forUM will appeal the decision with the Central Student Judiciary.

“We are disappointed in the ruling. We disagree with the findings,” he said. “But we’re especially disappointed by the negative way that youMICH tried to go about this.”

Lane also alleged that members of youMICH were actively trying to gather evidence to disqualify members of forUM rather than try to win the election.

“If I were them, I would have spent more time getting out the vote and trying to win rather than harassing Chris and Hayley and trying to come up with ways to screw them over,” he said. “We didn’t do this."

Ruza argued that youMICH was only taking note of violations it saw during the campaign and holding forUM to the election code.

Still, Lane said he thought Osborn and Sakwa’s disqualification goes beyond the presidency, saying that it will negatively impact the assembly too. He said the assembly — in which forUM’s 32 newly elected representatives hold a majority — “won’t get anything done” if it has to work with Proppe and Dishell.

“You’ll have to ask them how they plan to reconcile all this if they truly are the ones who end up taking office. I don’t think it’ll be possible,” Lane said, adding that there is already a “lot of bad blood” between youMICH and forUM.

This is a developing story. Check back to michigandaily.com for updates.

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article misstated which party Alexander Lane accused of evidence gathering. It also incorrectly used the terms "coercion" and "majority".


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