SG campaign accusations go to trial
Students will meet today for a trial that will determine whether a newly elected senator, who is accused of harassing voters, violated campaign rules.
Convening this evening in the Student Government (SG) Chambers on the fourth floor of the Marshall Student Center, the SG Supreme Court will hear the case against Saeed Sinan and decide if he broke rules prohibiting casting more than one vote and using a mobile polling station.
According to John Quiroz, the SG supervisor of elections, if Sinan is found guilty, he will be disqualified from the election and lose his seat in the SG Senate, which will likely result in a runoff election for the vacant seat from the College of the Arts and Sciences.
The evidence submitted to the court includes a video of Sinan approaching a student in the Library and allegedly urging him to cast a vote in his favor while standing over the student. Quiroz, along with acting SG Senate President Abdool Aziz and former SG Director of Communications Maggie Hall, will be called to testify.
In a statement submitted to the court, Aziz wrote that he saw Sinan walking up to students on the night of Feb. 19 and urging them to use their phones or laptops to cast votes for him, as well as newly elected student body president Andy Rodriguez.
In response to this, Sinan wrote to the court that he was helping a friend and INTO student who didn’t understand the voting directions.
“After the website was open, I continued guiding my friend through the process as he did not understand the directions well, as he is not a native English speaker,” he wrote. “The only campaigning I have done while the website was open was for Andy (Rodriguez) and Mike (Malanga), as is shown in the video.”
Sinan added his friend was registered to vote in the College of the Arts, while Sinan was a candidate in a different college, making it impossible for him to have the student in the video vote for him. Sinan wrote that the grievance is thus “irrelevant.”
Aziz’s statement also alleged that Sinan acted in a similar manner for votes outside Cooper Hall the Monday prior, saying he “harassed voters and slandered other Senate candidates.”
“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.
Sinan wrote that if a student didn’t want to vote, he would then immediately leave. He added that Aziz’s accusations of slander are unsubstantiated and denies harassing voters, stating he was only
“Part of campaigning entails that I ask people to vote for me, and that I direct people to the voting website,” Sinan wrote in his statement to the court. “This does not exclude the voting student’s own electronics. If the voter had no such electronics but exhibited a desire to vote, I loaned them my phone so they could use it to access the voting website.”
In another part of his statement, in which he responds to Hall’s statement, Sinan wrote “as the ERC’s polling station locations were very unpredictable during this election season, I did not feel comfortable directing students to a booth which may or may not even be set up … as far as I know, the upper floors of the library are not areas where campaigning is not allowed.”
In her statement, Hall wrote she allegedly saw Sinan with another newly elected senator, Alaeldean Elmunaier, on various floors of the Library on the morning of Feb. 19 urging students to vote for them on their personal phones and laptops.
Though he acknowledges campaigning on the floors of the Library and even bringing students coffee, he said he tried to be as quiet as he could.
Despite including in his statement that he showed students where to vote on their computers, approached students in the Library and outside Cooper Hall, and even offered students to vote on his phone, Sinan wrote he does not believe he is guilty of conducting a mobile polling
“I did not ask/force/mention that any student reveal to me their login information and I did not log in with any ID’s except my own,” he wrote. “I do not believe this counts as condoning, authorizing or sponsoring mobile polling stations.”
Sinan declined further comments to The Oracle, stating all his opinions are in the statements submitted to the court and he will share the same views at today’s trial, which is scheduled for 3:45 p.m.