As of 4 a.m, a group of about 20 people filled the single-room LSA student government offices where the fate of yesterday’s highly contested Central Student Government presidential election — receiving the highest voter turnout in recent history with 19 percent — rested in a hearing of the University Elections Committee to determine the eligibility of multiple candidates.
No results had been determined as of 4 a.m., following nearly eight hours of deliberation on a case filed by LSA junior Robert Bowen on behalf of OurMichigan and youMICH against Business junior Manish Parikh, an independent candidate for CSG president, regarding misuse of an e-mail listserv for campaigning purposes, a violation of student government election policy. New accusations also arose early this morning against the OurMichigan party for engaging in similar acts of listserv exploitation, spurring further investigations by the UEC.
A candidate can be individually disqualified from the election with a total of five demerits and an entire party can become ineligible with a total of 10 demerits among party members. Numerous members of several campus political parties continually filed in an out of the CSG offices on the third floor of the Michigan Union yesterday for hearing-related matters until adjourning to LSA-SG offices when the Union closed at 2 a.m.
The hearing was still ongoing early this morning as the UEC continued to determine if Parikh and his running mate, LSA sophomore Omar Hashwi, had warranted enough demerits for disqualification from the election, and began further examinations against OurMichigan.
CSG President DeAndree Watson said this spectacle was unparalleled.
“I have never seen anything like this since I have been involved in student government,” Watson said. “I’m concerned with the time it’s going to take to sort through all the complaints that have been filed and I hope we can get through this as quickly as possible.”
Watson added that these hearings could reflect badly on the people involved, noting that he believes more complaints may be filed before the results are released. The polls officially closed at midnight yesterday, and official results can’t be released until the hearings have been completed.
“Depending on what the outcome of some these cases are, that’s going to look poorly on the individuals who have allegedly participated in some actions that violate the election code,” he said.
Even when the preliminary results are released, it is unlikely that the elections will be truly over as other students have expressed intentions to file additional complaints with the UEC.
LSA junior Sean Walser, the chair of MForward, said his party already plans to file complaints if preliminary results show that they lost.
“We do have several complaints ready to file should we lose. We have various infractions that have been completed and we believe that would result in demerits,” Walser said. “We would be willing to file those … against various parties”
Parikh said that after the divisive climate generated from yesterday’s election, it’s important that student government works toward increasing unity among student groups and individuals moving forward.
“I think what this campus requires right now, no matter who wins this election, is unity, not division,” Parikh said. “There have been various incidents over the past year that have split campus, events like that have kind of split campus along party lines.”