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As Central Student Government polls close, the race still wide open

By Claire Bryan, Daily Staff Reporter
Published March 27, 2014

On top of an already eventful week for the Central Student Government, students were left waiting early Friday morning as CSG presidential election results were delayed by campaign infraction hearings.

The results of the CSG elections are currently withheld due to two lawsuits filed with the University Election Commission by the Make Michigan and FORUM parties.

According to the provisions of the new UEC election code, the results of CSG elections will be withheld until all cases are resolved, according to Law student Bryson Nitta, the Winter 2014 election director.

In compliance with the election code, the UEC will issue demerits to those found responsible for the infraction. Each demerit will result in a 3-percent deduction of total weighted votes per demerits issued.

On Monday, Make Michigan filed a formal complaint against FORUM, particularly concerning legislative candidate Robert Greenfield, an Engineering junior; legislative candidate Jacob Podell, an LSA freshman; and vice presidential candidate Pavitra Abraham, an LSA junior.

The first complaint alleged that Greenfield falsely claimed to be associated with the Campus SafeRide app in tweets and Facebook posts promoting FORUM. The second complaint stated that the FORUM party improperly implied the endorsement of the SafeRide app.

“Our own Engineering candidate Rob Greenfield worked intricately on the application by working with students, the administration and top safety officials to help make this app a reality,” a FORUM party supporter wrote on Facebook on March 22.

In a March 21 interview with the Daily, FORUM presidential candidate Carly Manes, a Public Policy junior, said FORUM was responsible for the SafeRide app.

“The prototype is up, helped to be completed by one of our representatives, Robbie Greenfield,” she said. “He’s a part of the creation of that — there were no Make Michigan people actually a part of the creation of this new SafeRide app.”

Previously, Public Policy junior Bobby Dishell, Make Michigan’s presidential candidate and current CSG vice president, and Campus SafeRide LLC concluded a formal agreement wherein Campus SafeRide LLC agreed to officially endorse Make Michigan and gave Make Michigan exclusive rights to promote the application.

FORUM filed a countercomplaint against Make Michigan claiming the complaint was frivolous.

“Long before Mr. Greenfield became an official candidate with the FORUM party, he was hard at work on a project to address student’s transportation needs,” the respondent’s reply brief read.

The brief included multiple e-mails between Greenfield and University Provost Martha Pollack about the development of the SafeRide app.

However, the petitioners of Make Michigan responded in another brief with a letter from Engineering senior Summit Shrestha, one of the technical developers for Campus SafeRide LLC.

“No member of the FORUM political party has participated in the technical development of the SafeRide application at any stage of this process,” Shrestha wrote in a March 25 letter to the UEC. “Mr. Greenfield claims to have participated in this development process, but his assertion is simply untrue.”

The UEC held a hearing Wednesday night and will come to a conclusion Friday morning.

If FORUM is found responsible, the UEC will issue the party a statutory maximum of eight demerits, which would result in a 3-percent reduction of votes for FORUM's candidates in question, Nitta said.

The second case preventing the release of election results pertains to an alleged violation of irresponsible e-mail use by the Defend Affirmative Action Party.

Steven Richards, a Social Work and Public Health graduate student and FORUM legislative candidate for the School of Social Work, is suing DAAP for improperly sending an e-mail to a listserv of 630 Social Work students on March 24, encouraging them to vote for DAAP.

According to the complaint brief, Social Work student Cassandra Muro sent the e-mail on behalf of Social Work student Reyna Asadizoudegani, the DAAP legislative candidate for the School of Social Work.

However, the respondent’s brief read: “Ms. Muro, unlike her friend, did not become involved with DAAP and has never volunteered with DAAP. Ms. Asadizoudegani has never asked Ms. Muro for assistance with her campaign.”

If the UEC finds the DAAP responsible for requesting the e-mail, three to four demerits will be issued per e-mail recipient, Nitta said.

The hearing will begin at 4:30 p.m. on Friday and the decision will be announced 36 hours after the hearing concludes.

Clarification: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that FORUM would receive a 24-percent reduction of their weighted total votes. If found guilty, candidates would receive a 3-percent reduction.