The IU Student Association Election Commission released decisions on ten of 25 filed complaints on Thursday night. The IGNITE ticket was disqualified, and by Friday the commission had announced the second-place Focus ticket had dropped to third place behind the Engage ticket.
The commission wrote in its decision that vote deductions would be assessed by multiplying the leftover percentages from each deduction together. For example, a five-percent deduction and a ten-percent deduction would be calculated to 95 percent multiplied by 90 percent.
Based on this logic, Focus, which received five violations, was only allowed to keep about 66 percent of its votes, and Engage, now in second place, was allowed to keep about 90 percent. Psych Up received a deduction of less than one percent based on candidate honesty and, as first-place Empower IU previously predicted, the ticket was not found guilty of any violations.
Focus presidential candidate junior Brandon Sakbun said he emailed and texted the election commissioner and the campaign’s liaison before the intermediary statements were due to ask if he could submit the accompanying receipts later in the week and received no response. Sakbun was on vacation in Hawaii and had no access to wifi, but when the commissioner did respond, he told Sakbun he would have to check with the commission, and they would have to rule as a body, despite the submission deadline being extended to the date when Focus did get the receipts to the commission. He provided documentation of these exchanges to corroborate his account.
“If I knew I needed to rent a car or hike down the mountain on foot, I would’ve done it,” Sakbun said.
Regardless, Focus was still penalized for this. The ticket’s intermediary and final statements didn’t include addresses and contact information for some businesses where expenditures were made in the proper column, though the addresses were included on attached receipts. For this and the previously mentioned violation, the ticket was given three 10-percent deductions.
The ticket was also docked an additional 4 and 5 percent for complaints filed by Engage.
Sakbun said he understands why the complaints were filed against him by Empower and Engage, two tickets with multiple IUSA veterans. Neither ticket gave comment to the Indiana Daily Student when contacted.
There are two ways to look at the complaints, Sakbun said, which were to either take each complaint and personally tie it to the ticket that filed it or understand flaws there are in the election code that the complaints were based on. He takes the latter approach.
“How does forgetting to put the addresses affect voting and the students’ opinion?,” he asked rhetorically.
He said it made sense to appeal the decisions, but after speaking with his staff and close friends, he decided it was not the right choice. Sakbun previously told the IDS that he did not plan on taking this year’s election to the IUSA Supreme Court like previous years’ outcomes.
“Spending more time nitpicking these issues instead of doing tangible things for the students wasn’t worth it for us,” he said. He admits a focus on policy may have been to the ticket’s disadvantage in this situation.
Sakbun had only been involved for a semester with IUSA, where he served as an adviser to the current vice president of Congress. However, the semester before, he interned in Washington, D.C., in the executive and legislative branches. He said in the semester he was involved with IUSA, he noticed serious flaws in the organization, which he planned to change.
“Do I regret any of this?,” Sakbun said. “Absolutely not.”
He said experience cannot be quantified. Sakbun also said he is currently working to make sure his staff members are going to have a place in the next IUSA administration.
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