After listening to grievances filed against Matthew Diaz and Zachary Johnson’s campaign for student body president Tuesday, the Student Government (SG) Elections Rules Committee (ERC) was unable to reach a decision on whether or not the ticket should be disqualified.
Hours before Diaz and Johnson were named the next student body president and vice president Thursday, four grievances were filed against the ticket by fellow campaigns Melissa Leddy-Christina McLaughlin and Jason Funes-James O’Connor.
Tuesday, the ERC met to hear five-minute responses from both Diaz-Johnson and the opposing tickets on the separate grievances. However, the committee was unable reach a decision on whether any of the grievances were valid by the close of business.
Chris Leddy, campaign manager for the Leddy-McLaughlin ticket, presented the ERC with the first grievance, which accused Diaz of operating a mobile polling station – a major violation of ERC Rules of Procedure (ROP).
“This was a clear attempt to setup a mobile polling station,” Chris said. “They were going around the halls of Juniper-Poplar telling students to vote for them on Blackboard. A mobile polling station is the use of any laptop, PDA, cell phone or other mobile device by a candidate, group or individuals on behalf of a candidate.”
Diaz represented his ticket in defense, and said the actions in question did not constitute a mobile polling station.
“We did not have mobile polling station,” Diaz said. “There must be a voting booth.”
Diaz also refuted an e-mail from Assistant Residence Life Coordinator Caitlin Kirchner that Leddy-McLaughlin submitted as evidence for the claim. He said the e-mail should not be used as evidence since it makes no reference to a mobile polling station – only that the ticket was campaigning in the hall – and is based on statements made to Kirchner by other resident assistants (RA).
“You cannot accept any testimony from an RA; there is a clear bias,” he said. “Someone on (the Leddy-McLaughlin) campaign staff list, Laura Wilkie, is an RA in Juniper-Poplar Hall. Earlier in the week when Mr. Johnson and Mr. (Joseph) Anastasio (Diaz’s campaign manager) entered within there, they were soliciting to students saying, ‘Hey, go out to vote, go out to vote, go out to vote.’ (Wilkie) proceeded to say, ‘Hey, you’re in Leddy-Mac territory. Get out of here.”
In the second grievance, Melissa argued that Diaz-Johnson campaigners were slipping campaign flyers and door hangers under the doorways of student dorms in Juniper-Poplar – which she claimed violates ROP 8.11.1-C. She said her own running mate received a door hanger.
“When Christina walked in her door, (the door hanger) was slipped under (the door),” Melissa said. “When we walked around to ask who was campaigning to the guys who are always in the common area, they pulled (out the door hanger) and pointed to (the picture of Diaz on the door hanger) and said it was him.”
Because the students in the common area did not submit a statement, Diaz said McLaughlin could have procured the door hanger from anywhere and that there was not sufficient evidence for their case.
Diaz also pointed out that the grievance cited the wrong ROP, mistakenly listing 8.11.1-C instead of 8.11.2-C, and that all grievance paperwork must be filed correctly for it to be considered valid.
“That’s a miscitation of statutes,” he said. “You cannot make assumptions.”
This is a rule that Diaz has had experience with before. During last year’s presidential election, he and running mate Andrew Cohen filed a grievance against the Cesar Hernandez-Spencer Montgomery presidential ticket that was thrown out by the ERC because it miscited statutes.
Diaz used the same defense against both of the grievances filed by Funes-O’Conner.
That ticket cited minor violation 1.1.1 for both of their grievances – a ROP that does not exist. During the hearing, Funes corrected the mistake he made in filing the grievances – which claimed the ticket chalked in a restricted area and campaigned within 50 feet of a polling station.
“You can see (in a video) at 11:12 a.m. as I was walking out of the (Marshall Student Center) doors, there was a student handing out (Diaz-Johnson) flyers (with) one of the girls from one of the Greek organizations,” Funes said. “That was within 50 feet of a polling center, not only the Marshall Student Center, but the computer center as well, under ROP 8.11.2-I.”
Diaz argued that all grievance material must be submitted with the grievance, and Funes’ correction cannot change what was filed.
He and his camp also voiced their displeasure with the withholding of evidence by the ERC. Funes used the video surveillance footage as evidence to support his claims during the meeting. While the ERC allowed the footage as evidence, they did not allow it to be shown during the hearing – leaving Diaz to defend his ticket against evidence he never saw.
“The evidence is there to have the ERC make their decision,” SG Attorney General Janet Rojas said.
“It wasn’t a court case today. If it was a court case then of course, everybody gets the evidence, everybody gets to develop a case,” she said. “Today was an opportunity for the ticket that the grievance was against to make their statement against the violation, or why the violation was invalid. So, I thought the evidence was there for the ERC make their decision.”
Supervisor of Elections Andrew Uhlir, who served as chair for the hearing, said the results announcement will be ready sometime Wednesday.
– Additional reporting by Brittany Cerny