The results of this week’s Central Student Government elections remained undecided early Friday morning. Voting closed online at midnight Friday.
According to the CSG Compiled Code, unofficial results are to be released to candidates 24 hours after polls close. Official results are to be released on the CSG website within 24 of confirmation by the University Elections Commission and after all pending litigation concludes. Election complaints can be delivered to the election director up until 24 hours after the polls close.
The UEC convened Wednesday and Thursday for hearings after Make Michigan filed a complaint against The Team for destruction of campaign materials.
Make Michigan claimed that representatives or volunteers from The Team threw buckets of water on advertisements written in chalk that read “Vote for Make Michigan,” and subsequently replaced them with chalk advertisements that read “The Team.”
Make Michigan members and volunteers said they had drawn these promotions near the block ‘M’ on the Diag the night of March 16. The destruction allegedly occurred the night of March 18.
“It’s under (UEC) code that they are responsible for educating all of their members and candidates and ensuring they follow the rules that are prescribed for the election,” said Law School student Rachel Jankowski, counsel for Make Michigan. “That includes not causing major infractions like this one: destructing an opposing party’s campaign materials.”
Destruction of campaign materials is a violation of campaign conduct as outlined by the UEC Election Code, which is part of the CSG Compiled Code. The code declares that, if violated, individuals or parties receive demerits — one or two demerits are given for minor infractions and three or four are given for major infractions. Destruction of campaign material is a major infraction. Individual candidates are disqualified if they receive five or more demerits, and entire parties are disqualified if they receive 10 or more.
Regardless of whether a member of The Team or a non-candidate was responsible for the destruction, Make Michigan asked the Central Student Judiciary to give The Team three or four demerits.
“We believe beyond a reasonable doubt that The Team was responsible for this,” Jankowski said. “No one else would have the intent or the want and malice to do these kind of actions. There’s no reason anyone would come out and pour water onto sidewalk chalk unless it was an opposing party intending to destruct campaign materials and replacing them with their own.”
However, some members of the commission questioned that assertion and suggested other groups could have been responsible, including the third party running in CSG elections, the Defend Affirmative Action Party.
“Wouldn’t it make even more sense for a member of DAAP to remove Make Michigan’s campaign materials and put something that makes it look like The Team might have done it over it?” asked Law School student Paige Becker, chair of the UEC.
Jankowski said in response that DAAP could have committed the violation, but the fact that The Team’s advertisements replaced Make Michigan’s does not make DAAP look guilty.
Law School student Sarah Brenner, legal counsel for The Team, said Make Michigan’s complaint fails to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a candidate or volunteer of The Team committed the destruction.
“As we all know, this destruction occurred on the Diag,” she said. ”The original Make Michigan chalking occurred on March 16th, and the pictures (of the new “The Team” chalking) were taken on March 18th. That’s two days in between. Within two days, thousands of people walk across the Diag, any one of which could have destroyed Make Michigan’s chalking.”
For a party to be found guilty, the person who committed the act, along with the act itself, need to fall under CSG’s “scope of coordination.”
Brenner said to fall under that scope the person who committed the act must have been “a candidate or a non-candidate who worked with or at the request of the party.” An act that falls within the scope of coordination must be “what the candidate or party requested the non-candidate to do.”
“So if the person did not do what the party requested them to do, they would not fall under the scope of coordination,” Brenner added.
Overall, Brenner argued that there is not enough evidence for The Team, or anyone representing The Team, to be found guilty.
The commission also brought up an additional element in the case — the fact that Make Michigan’s chalk drawing was only partially eradicated. The chalking originally said, “Vote for Make Michigan.” After the destruction, while “Make Michigan” had been removed , the “Vote for” portion remained.
“Can you think of any reason why someone who is clearly pouring water to destroy Make Michigan’s chalking, why they wouldn’t also pour water on the words, ‘Vote for’?” Law school student Brian Koziara, member of the UEC, asked.
Brenner said she did not find this question incriminating to The Team.
“I mean I can think of plenty of reasons,” she said. “If someone is trying to get two parties in here, the two biggest parties on campus that are fighting for this election, I can see somebody putting water on one place and then creating an issue. I mean, absolutely anyone on campus can do that.”
The UEC also considered two other lawsuits Wednesday.
Multiple candidates were accused of missing the mandatory candidates’ meeting at the beginning of the campaign season. According to Becker, candidates who were thought to have had legitimate reasons for missing the meeting such as time conflicts with classes were given warnings.
Candidates who did not have a legitimate reason were each given a demerit.
A lawsuit between two University Law students was discussed as well. One student alleged there was an e-mail violation where the candidate used a listserv which did not belong to the student.
An additional lawsuit was filed Thursday by Make Michigan against The Team. Make Michigan claims The Team committed a campaign funding violation by not reporting all of the party’s campaign expenditures. The date and time for the hearing of this lawsuit has not yet been decided.
Another lawsuit on e-mail violations was also filed Thursday by Make Michigan against a candidate for The Team running for the Art & Design representative position. UEC will hear the lawsuit on Friday.