“We got rid of the chads, so what the hell is wrong?” screamed a student after learning the results for the student body president election would not be released.
Thursday night, about 30 student supporters stood in front of the Phyllis P. Marshall Center to hear the results of the runoff between Mike Berman and Omar Khan. But there was a twist, and both tickets were disqualified for election rules violations.
“It’s an ongoing investigation,” Election Rules Commission director Yolanda Best said, regarding the events that led to the elimination of both tickets running for student body president. Though 2,539 students cast votes between Wednesday morning and Thursday night, there were no official results available due to the fact that both tickets were disqualified.
According to ERC rules, both tickets were in violation of two different mandates.
“They have both committed 10-point violations, which results in an immediate disqualification,” Best said.
The Omar Khan and Ryan Morris ticket is being accused of breaking rule 10.2.8 which prohibits “any form of active campaigning in a room where a scheduled class is taking place.”
A student reported that another student, Gina Zitman, was campaigning in a classroom for Khan and Morris.
Best said they are still investigating the matter, but it appears nobody with that name works for the campaign.
On the other side, the Michael Berman and Ronda Bostick ticket was cited for violating the 10.2.6 rule, which prohibits “use of extortion of any kind, or use of physical/ mental intimidation or abuse.” This was constituted by various “intimidating” e-mails allegedly sent to Morris.
Best would not specify how many votes each ticket received.
“She notified us about an hour and half ago that our ticket was disqualified and received a 10-point violation for use of abuse,” Berman said.
“Evidently, somebody using an e-mail address of one of our campaign workers sent abusive e-mails to both Ryan and Omar.”
Regarding the accusations that have disqualified his ticket, Berman said he has proof of foul play.
“We have copies of the e-mails, we know what time these e-mails were sent, and we have verifiable alibis…”
The e-mails allegedly came from the account of Sean Condella, a registered campaign worker for Berman and Bostick.
“We have worked very hard to run a clean campaign,” Berman said.
Both tickets started off with a clean slate, as points from the beginning of the election were erased for the runoff.
“We had no points whatsoever,” Berman said. “We are contesting (the disqualification) because what they believed happened did not happen.”
There is a procedure that both tickets have to follow in order to contest the disqualification. Each has to file a document within 24 hours with the Supreme Court of Student Government stating their wishes to contest the election. After the justices receive the documents, they have three days to set a day and time to review the case. Best said she is not sure how many justices would delegate the case.
“That would be determined after it is known who has had personal contact with any of the candidates,” Best said.
Berman said the student justice for the Supreme Court of Student Government is Dustin Sachs. Berman and Bostick also said they know Sachs from working with him in SG.
Khan and Morris said they were happy with the student turnout at the polls and said they appreciate the students’ feedback and support throughout the election.
“We love USF, those who support us, those who don’t, our opponents and anyone who has ever strived to build a better USF,” Khan said.
Regarding the disqualification of both tickets Khan said, “I think this is very unfortunate this has happened, and I am confident that this situation will be resolved in our favor.”
As to some of the justices having a working relationship with both Berman and Bostick, Khan had one thing to say.
“We trust that our Supreme Court will remain neutral and unbiased in this situation,” Khan said.