An individual affiliated with the OurMichigan party has made numerous allegations of campaign violations against the other parties running in the Central Student Government presidential and vice presidential elections, according to a document obtained by The Michigan Daily last night.
The University Elections Commission will hold nine hearings today in response to the alleged campaign violations, and there have been 15 complaints filed so far, which can translate to demerits if they violate UEC policy, election director Peter Borock said. If a candidate receives five demerits, he or she is disqualified from the election, and if a party receives 10 demerits, the whole party and its candidates are deemed ineligible.
Of the 15 complaints, two have been issued as demerits, one was dismissed, one has been withdrawn and the remaining 10 will be heard today. Borock said the additional complaint had been recently filed, and he was unable to confirm details about the grievance.
While he said he expects the number of complaints to increase before voting ends tonight at 11:59 p.m., Borock said many of the complaints could fail to result in demerits.
“If you filed a complaint for aliens coming down and coordinating with a party, we actually would have to have a hearing for that,” Borock said. “Yes there are 10 hearings scheduled, but that doesn’t mean there are 10 valid complaints or any valid complaints.”
Twenty-seven demerits have already been issued to candidates who missed a mandatory candidates’ meeting. LSA sophomore Louis Mirante, the MForward vice presidential candidate, and LSA freshman Swati Sudarsan, an MForward candidate for assembly representative, each received two demerits as the result of a complaint filed by members of youMich concerning chalking on the Diag. Additionally, MForward, as a party, received two demerits as a result of the violation of chalking policy, which concerns guidelines for proximity of campaign chalk material to other campaigns’ advertising.
Since presidential and vice presidential slates are issued demerits as a pair and not individually, Mirante and LSA junior Aditya Sathi, the MForward presidential candidate, have three total demerits — Sathi missed the candidates’ meeting and Mirante received two from the hearing concerning chalking.
A source affiliated with CSG who wished to remain anonymous said these demerits have been part of a strategic plan by youMich and OurMichigan to remove their rivals through technicalities.
“OurMichigan seems to be trying to sue other parties out of the election and deny the student body’s democratic right to choose which campaign should win,” the source said. “youMICH, although they haven’t alleged as many suits, tried to sue MForward out of the election.”
The source added that youMich alleged that each of three instances of MForward’s supposed chalking infractions should result in four demerits, which would give MForward 12 total demerits. With 12 demerits, MForward and all 37 of its candidates would be disqualified from the elections.
Of the 14 complaints, eight have been filed by LSA junior Robert Bowen. Bowen was formerly the campaign manager of MForward but Public Policy junior Kevin Mersol-Barg, the OurMichigan presidential candidate, said Bowen is now affiliated with the OurMichigan campaign.
Mersol-Barg also said the source’s claims about OurMichigan are untrue.
“OurMichigan, for one, can win on its own merits,” he said. “We have more endorsements than any other candidate or slate of tickets. I think our work speaks for itself.”
Mersol-Barg added that wrongdoings by other parties were so egregious that OurMichigan also had to file complaints.
“If we let all of these other candidates get away with committing these grave violations (to) the election code as while we’re observing it, it’s doing a disservice to all students,” Mersol-Barg said. “It’s not part of a strategy to win.”
Borock added that there are safeguards to prevent a campaign from suing its way to electoral victory, including a provision to maintain “equity”
“I interpret to mean that … if there are extenuating circumstances that the UEC can be more lenient or if something is particularly egregious, malicious, wanton, willful then we can be more harsh,” Borock said.
He continued, saying that a candidate being disqualified does not reflect well on the elections.
“I don’t think that’s good for the University. I don’t think that’s good for the students,” Borock said. “The point of an election is to have students choose who their student body leaders are.”
Borock also mentioned that turnout for the election has already exceeded his expectations, noting that over 14 percent of the student body has voted as of 2 a.m. last night.