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Friday, May 24
The Indiana Daily Student

IUSA begins appeal process

For the IU Student Association election tickets, it’s a waiting game.

Although preliminary results for the 2016 student elections were announced nearly two weeks ago, the new IUSA executive administration is still unknown. After accepting six complaints, the election commission made its final decisions Monday.

Now, however, it’s in the hands of the IUSA Supreme Court.

Tickets submitted appeals regarding the commission’s final decisions Wednesday night to the Student Body Supreme Court.

From there, the Supreme Court will decide if it wants to accept an appeal. If it decides to accept an appeal, different parties, such as tickets or the election commission, can write reply briefs. Then there will be a public hearing based on each appeal where each side will present their case before the final decision is made.

“I hope that each ticket gets the opportunity to let their voice be heard and to present their case,” Adam Kehoe, commission chairman, said. “I hope we’re given the opportunity to do the same.”

Throughout the process of going over complaints, Kehoe said it was hard because there was no precedent for some of the infractions. Kehoe said the election commission wanted to remain as thorough and fair as possible.

“It took a lot of deliberation, but we wanted to cover all our bases,” Kehoe said.

Although it still won after infractions, REAL for IUSA is appealing its 21.4 percent vote deduction, which was the result of REAL’s alleged voter fraud.

“The most frustrating thing is we didn’t commit voter fraud, and so many students who voted for us are getting disenfranchised,” REAL President Sara Zaheer said.

The commission accepted three complaints filed by RISE against REAL.

One complaint stated the College Democrats sent out an email endorsing REAL, and included a link used for student voting. Sending out the voting link is considered voting fraud, according to the election code. The commission’s decision stated the College Democrats executive board committed voter fraud, and since REAL members were on this executive board, REAL committed voter fraud.

Zaheer said no one from their ticket told anyone on the College Democrats to send out the email or link and the evidence presented against them was weak. Therefore, the complaint should have been dismissed.

Another complaint stated a member of REAL’s ticket made a Facebook post supporting the ticket and distributing the 
voting link.

REAL claims the student was never a part of their ticket and was therefore a third party who was allowed to make posts such as this.

“The worst part is accusing other organizations of committing voter fraud,” Zaheer said.

For RISE for IUSA President Naomi Kellogg, the integrity of the election was important, especially after the disqualification of a ticket last year. The fact that a ticket could win while committing voter fraud is disappointing, she said.

“Most of the people running this year had knowledge of how important it is that if you’re going to win, you need to win fairly,” Kellogg said.

The ticket that takes office should have the voters’ trust, she added.

“How do we expect voters to have faith in IUSA if you can get away with voter fraud?” Kellogg said.

Zaheer said one of REAL’s biggest concerns since the beginning of the semester was the bias of the election commission.

The election commission has a member of last year’s Amplify ticket. Ever since they found out who would be on the election commission, Zaheer said REAL was worried the process wouldn’t be fair.

“They say this one loud voice is experienced, but we’re saying it’s biased,” Zaheer said.

Kellogg said the process has been 100 percent fair.

Since the election commission is a group of students just like the tickets, it’s hard to remain completely 
unbiased.

However, one of the best parts of the Supreme Court is they have been so removed from the process until now, Kellogg said.

Although REAL is concerned with how RISE got evidence against them, Kellogg said all evidence against REAL is legal and correct.

“It’s all there and was all obtained legally,” Kellogg said. “It’s about the fact that there is black and white proof of dishonesty.”

Zaheer said the biggest reason REAL decided to appeal is because of what this could mean for future elections — the commission was irresponsible throughout the process.

“The reason we’re appealing is because what the commission allowed to happen will set a horrible precedent for the future,” Zaheer said.

Although they were frustrated with the complaint results, Zaheer said it’s still impressive that after deductions, REAL was still able to win.

“We knew it was going to be an uphill battle, but it’s a testament to the work our staff has done for the past three or four months,” Zaheer said.

At the end of the day, Kehoe said it’s a contest, so someone has to lose. It’s natural for there to be disappointment if something doesn’t go a certain way.

“You can’t please everyone, but we really tried to do our best,” Kehoe said.

Zaheer said the long process is frustrating because it’s holding the next administration back from having time to staff and work on platforms.

Kellogg urged people to not get discouraged by this long process. Last year, it took nearly three weeks to announce the official winner.

“It should be a very meticulous, thought-out process that people take seriously,” Kellogg said. “This process exists, and it exists for a reason.”

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