After the final Central Student Government election hearings Monday evening, the University Elections Commission announced Wednesday morning that it had found both Make Michigan and The Team not guilty of harvesting e-mails.
While the hearing results signify that neither party will be disqualified, both parties have 24 hours to file an appeal to the Central Student Judiciary. When the appeal process concludes, the UEC must then vote to certify the final results. If that process concludes without appeal, Make Michigan will retain its hold on the presidency and vice presidency.
Since unofficial election results released last week that announced Make Michigan beat The Team by five votes, there have been a total of nine complaints filed among both parties. The election was the closest CSG race in the last decade.
Law student Paige Becker, the University’s elections director, said the UEC found that neither Make Michigan nor The Team committed any of the pending election code violations the UEC had yet to rule on. As a result, the UEC assessed no demerits.
The CSG Compiled Code states that an election code violation may warrant a specified number of demerits, depending on the severity of the violation, to either a responsible individual or an entire party.
An individual is disqualified if he or she receives five demerits, and an entire party is disqualified if it receives 10 demerits. The Team had previously been assessed four demerits for the destruction of Make Michigan campaign materials.
Two candidates, one from The Team and one from Make Michigan, have already been disqualified for e-mailing listservs that did not belong to them.
The Team filed a complaint accusing Make Michigan’s campaign manager, LSA freshman Lauren Siegel, of harvesting 5,719 e-mails by gathering uniqnames from the “Crush the Calendar” UPetition, which she created. Had the UEC found the party responsible, it could have been assessed as many as 17,000 demerits.
Make Michigan had alleged that The Team’s Representative Manager, LSA senior Andrew Loeb, had harvested 534 e-mails, which could have earned The Team over 1,000 demerits.
If Make Michigan had been disqualified for the e-mails violation, but The Team was found not responsible, The Team could have secured the executive seats. If both parties had been found responsible and were disqualified, the Defend Affirmative Action candidates would have assumed the presidency and vice presidency.
In its opinion for these cases, the UEC defined “harvesting” for the purposes of the code.
“(An e-mail) must have been removed from its original context without any form of mutual understanding between the harvester and the owner of the address,” the UEC wrote in the decision.
According to the UEC, harvesting has not occurred when a student voluntarily provides his or her e-mail address for a given purpose, such as to receive messages from a party concerning the election. However, if a party or candidate recompiled e-mail addresses that were provided for one given purpose to use for a different purpose, that would constitute an election code violation.
The UEC further defined what could constitute e-mail harvesting as according to the Election Code.
“If candidate A goes through a listserv in order to find the e-mail addresses of a subset of that listserv — such as his friends — who he/she reasonably could believe would be more likely than the average student to support his campaign, he has not ‘harvested’ e-mail addresses within the meaning of the Code,” the UEC wrote in the decision.
In the case where a party or candidate copies all, most or even a random sample of the e-mails from a listserv whose purpose provides no reason to believe that those on the listserv would be more likely to support the party or candidate’s message than any other person, that party or candidate has acted in violation of the code.
In the decision, the UEC first held that because Loeb is neither a candidate nor a party, it does not have jurisdiction to determine his guilt or innocence. Thus, the UEC could not assess him demerits, but could assess The Team demerits for his actions.
In the case of Siegel’s actions, the UEC ultimately concluded in its decision that it cannot hold Siegel accountable for a campaign violation because it is possible that she may have reasonably believed that the students to whom she sent promotional e-mails would be more likely than any other student to support Make Michigan.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the UEC could not assess demerits to The Team for Loeb’s infraction.