Though campaigning and voting officially ended last week, some candidates may not know if they will be elected to Student Government (SG) until after spring break.
SG’s Supreme Court issued a notice Tuesday morning stating the court will hold a trial to decide whether Saeed Sinan, a newly elected senator from the College of Arts and Sciences, violated campaign rules that prohibit casting more than one vote and using a mobile polling station.
If found guilty of such a violation, Sinan will be disqualified from the election and potentially lose his seat in the SG Senate.
The Supreme Court voted unanimously to take up the case Monday after three pieces of evidence were submitted to Chief Justice Daniel Shapiro. This included two statements and a video alleging that Sinan was seen going around the Library to students on their computers, having them pull up the voting website and cast votes in his favor while standing over their shoulder.
On Feb. 19 at 1 a.m., according to a statement submitted to Shapiro by Senate Pro Tempore Abdool Aziz, Sinan was allegedly seen in the Library walking up to students inside and urged them to use their phone or laptop to cast votes for him, as well as the presidential and senatorial candidates he liked.
Aziz’s statement continues to allege that this was not the first time Sinan acted in this way, as he “harassed voters and slandered other Senate candidates” the Monday prior in front of Cooper Hall.
“In other instances, Mr. Sinan has used his personal phone to make people vote on it if they had no laptop or phone of their own. Mr. Sinan has taken the freedom away from (an) individual to choose who they want to vote for,” Aziz also wrote in his statement.
The video submitted to the court shows Sinan urging a student in the Library to vote for Sinan on his personal computer.
However, according to statements submitted by Aziz and former SG Director of Communications Maggie Hall, Sinan acted alongside Alaeldean Elmunaier, who was also newly elected to the SG Senate from the College of Arts and Sciences.
On Feb. 16 around noon, Elmunaier was allegedly seen campaigning outside Cooper Hall, according to Hall’s statement, urging students in an act similar to how Sinan was described above.
Hall’s statement described Elmunaier approaching several students before she confronted one of the students and asked what Elmunaier was doing.
“The student informed me that Mr. Elmunair (sic) asked him to open the ballot and vote for a certain presidential candidate, OUR shirt design, and to vote for himself and some of his friends,” Hall wrote in her statement. “The student informed me that he had no information on which he was voting for; he just did it so Mr. Elumnair (sic) would leave him alone.”
Hall continued to write she saw Elmunaier and Sinan on various floors of the Library early Thursday morning urging students to vote for them on their personal phones and laptops.
The trial date is tentatively set for March 11.
At Monday’s Supreme Court meeting, justices also voted in favor of an expedited election for senators from the College of Business.
“We had some mistakes happen with the elections,” said SG Supervisor of Elections John Quiroz. “We had a candidate unable to be placed on the ballot for six hours. Throughout that time period, 71 votes were cast. (Joshua) Smith lost the election by 40 votes. Because of the math and the results of this, my commission asked that we would come to you and ask for an expedited election to make sure the election is fair to all students.”
After the results were announced, Quiroz told The Oracle that Smith was not on the ballot because of an input error resulting from Smith double majoring in both the College of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences. On his application for Senate, Smith applied for a seat in the College of Business, which had fewer people running.
For the College of Business, 18 candidates ran for nine seats in the Senate.
By the end of voting, Smith received 185 votes, while winning candidates received between 221 and 352 votes.
“Someone’s rights are being violated by not having their name on the ballot,” said Justice Lindsay Betros. “(The election results) could have been affected by it, so that’s what we have to look at.”
Though the court was supportive of a new election, one member of the gallery at Monday’s meeting was not. Nicholas Russo, who won a senate seat from the College of Business with 274 votes, said a new election for the college would be unjust.
“What I believe is going to happen is that the presidential election isn’t happening anymore, so the whole dynamic of the election is changed now,” Russo said. “Way less people are going to vote. People don’t want to hear ‘vote vote vote’ anymore.”
While Russo felt Smith was slighted in the election, he said it should be the College of Arts and Sciences that should have another election.
Though the court did not entertain a discussion of an expedited election for the College of Arts and Sciences as it was not an agenda item at that meeting, Shapiro said the difference in votes caused by the confusion of Smith’s count was a “huge disparity” and was a “ripple effect” that may affect both colleges.
It is expected that the topic of an expedited election for the College of Arts of Sciences, in addition to the College of Business, will likely be discussed when the court reconvenes the Monday after spring break.