Commentary: Elections Board screws up and students suffer

Lulu Ramadan

Lulu Ramadan. Photo by Ryan Murphy
Lulu Ramadan. Photo by Ryan Murphy

[Ed notes: 1. A previous version of this story said Amirato and Callahan were disqualified for not getting their campaign sponsors approved, not reprimanded. 2. The Constitution Revision Committee voted to approve the new instant run off system, not the Elections Board. 3. As a clarification, the Elections Board miscalculated the votes, according to the candidates’ contestations and unofficial results the Elections Board posted. These results are tabulated by a third-party company, Voter Net Solutions.]

Everywhere I turn, my attention is drawn to the Student Government election’s background nonsense: are these candidates eligible to run? Did they break any rules? Can Elections Board even count votes?

And not one person in SG can answer my simplest question — who’s the boss?

The elections for the next SG president were on myfau.edu on Feb. 19 and 20. Four pairs ran for the positions of president and vice president. Now, almost a month later, not one has come out on top.

It all began on Thursday, Feb. 22 when the unofficial results went up and candidate satisfaction went down. Way down.

Ella Tepper racked up the most votes for president along with her VP Jaclyn Broudy. But was that the end? Not even close.

Two candidates — LaTasha Lee, presidential candidate with the third most votes, and Patrick Callahan, Pedro Amirato’s VP with the second most votes — decided to challenge the results of the election. Over and over again. Five times, to be exact.

Along with two challenges from Tepper and Broudy, a total of seven were filed. Seven.

And they’re the most contestations filed in an SG election here at FAU, ever. In 2009, five were filed against former SG President Tiffany Weimer, and they were dismissed without an Elections Board hearing.

First, Callahan questioned Broudy’s ability to run the place based on her recent written arrest for possession of alcohol under the age of 21 on Feb. 8.

According to Associate Dean of Students Terry Mena, Broudy is eligible to run regardless of the arrest.

But other SG candidates in this election posted photos of themselves drinking underage on Facebook, but didn’t get caught.

Both Lee and Callahan challenged Tepper and Broudy’s ticket again, this time because their campaign manager AJ Einbinder allegedly told people through Facebook how to rank the candidates so that Tepper and Broudy would win.

So, you mean to tell me a campaign manager was campaigning? Shame on him.

Tepper and Broudy fought back. Tepper challenged Lee’s eligibility based on the number of credit hours she is taking this semester. Lee is a graduate student. The minimum number of credit hours for an undergrad is 12, but the minimum for a graduate student is six.

“I have the credit equivalency of a full time student,” Lee told the UP after the challenge.

OK ladies, what else you got?

Broudy challenged Amirato and Callahan for not getting their campaign sponsors approved. They didn’t, and they were reprimanded

Then there’s the new voting system. Candidates are ranked by number and the highest ranked candidate gets the most points. Sounds simple, right? Not really.

Lee and Callahan challenged the Elections Board over the validity of the results. The votes don’t add up, according to the challenges made by the candidates, which may make the ranking system invalid. The hearings over the validity of the results have been tabled indefinitely — meaning we don’t know who the next SG president is, and the Board can’t tell us when we’ll find out.

I requested the actual rankings from Mena on Feb. 21. Mena requested the rankings from the third party company used in the election, Voter Net Solutions, shortly afterward. The UP hasn’t got the results as of press time.

According to Mena, Voter Net Solutions only provided SG with the final results of the election, not the actual rankings.

“We’re working on getting those [rankings], I want to wrap this thing up before Spring Break,” Mena said. Three weeks ago.

According to Mena, we won’t know the true results until that information comes in. He couldn’t provide a time frame for the results.

“It could be a while,” he said. “I don’t know.”

But if the candidates would stop slinging mud for one moment, they’d realize that there is a common enemy here: the Elections Board.

We gave them one simple task: find out who the next president is. Chair of the Elections Board Michael Brown gets paid over eight grand a year from student A&S fees to get this done.

The Elections Board has quite the track record with ultimately screwing up each election. This year they miscalculated the votes, according to the unofficial results Elections Board posted and the candidates’ contestations. Last fall, you guessed it, they miscalculated the votes. Along with missing amendments on the ballot, the election had to be re-reviewed.

“In the upcoming election [in spring], we will definitely correct any mistakes we made on our part,” Brown told the UP last fall after messing up that election.

This semester, the new system is at fault, according to Mena and Brown. What will it be next election?

So, to the candidates waiting on the edge of their seats to find out who the winner is, stop fighting each other and try dealing with the real problem.

Then again, what do I know? I’m just a part of that nine percent minority that actually voted in the spring election.

Unless the Elections Board screwed up that number too.