Election Supervisory Board

ESB dismisses allegations of collaboration between Long and Jones-Dargahi, citing insufficient evidence

In the final hours of runoff voting, the Election Supervisory Board dismissed allegations that Executive Alliance candidates Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi failed to identify a student as a worker in their campaign.

Defeated presidential candidate David Maly sent a complaint to the board late Wednesday evening, claiming that an email from re-elected Liberal Arts Representative Tanner Long, urging newly elected representatives to vote for Jones and Dargahi in the executive alliance runoff election, was a “clear collaboration between Long and the Jones-Dargahi alliance.”

“The complainant could not prove that coordination between the Executive Alliance and Tanner Long existed prior to Tanner Long’s email being sent to new ‘Officers Elect,’” the resolution read.

In Long’s email to the representatives, he encouraged the newly elected representatives to vote for Jones-Dargahi.

“These positions require the political savvy that Braydon and Kimia have already demonstrated during their past SG positions,” Long wrote. “I’m not sure I can say the same for their opponents.”

Long said he hoped the representatives would vote for, and advocate for, Jones’ campaign.

“This runoff election is more important than ever because Student Government needs legitimacy to function properly,” Long wrote. “I ask that you support Braydon and Kimia in the runoff election  I also ask you for your direct support in their effort. As representatives, we can have a lot of credibility with our constituents. And with that comes the responsibility to ensure that Student Government is as legitimate as it can be.”

Long concluded the email by saying said it was “his understanding” that Jones would be contacting them later that day to invite them to a special campaign event. Although Long and Jones said they did not discuss the event together, Maly said he believes otherwise.

“I think it’s ridiculous to say that Tanner just assumed that Braydon would be inviting these people,” Maly said. “I don’t think he would send an email to all these people, saying that Braydon was going to be contacting you to invite you to this event, unless he knew that was going to happen. I think it’s clear that collaboration took place, which would make Mr. Long a worker.”  

Long sent an affidavit to the board, stating he acted on behalf of no one but himself.

“I acted on my own accord,” Long said. “Others cannot know my own private actions unless I reveal them. I would also like to say I am flattered by Mr. Maly, who seems to believe a voice of support from me just would help to further a candidate.”

Jones said again he was not aware Long was planning to send an email advocating for his campaign.

“I have not once been in contact with Mr. Long regarding that night’s event, or I did not at any point encourage him to reach out to the reps and send an email,” Jones said. “That was all on his own will.”

Maly also said Long acted in association with Student Government, which is illegal by the Election Code. Long’s email signature read “Liberal arts representative.”

“A title does not mean I am speaking on behalf of that position,” Long said. “If that were the case, having the University of Texas on my signature line would imply I’m speaking on behalf of the University to support the candidates.”  

The board ultimately ruled there was insufficient evidence to prove a connection between Long and Jones-Dargahi.

“Therefore, let it be resolved: That after holding a hearing on the morning of Thursday, March 12, 2015, the Election Supervisory Board has determined that the burden of proof has not been met, and the complaint is being dismissed,” the resolution read.

Voting continues until 5 p.m., and results for the Executive Alliance runoff will be announced on the Main Mall at 6 p.m.

Maly files complaint against Jones-Dargahi, alleging failure to declare campaign workers

With less than a day left in the Student Government runoff election, defeated presidential candidate David Maly filed a complaint against Braydon Jones and Kimia Dargahi, alleging they failed to declare one of their campaign workers to the Election Supervisory Board.

Tanner Long, who was re-elected as Liberal Arts Representative last week, sent an email to newly elected Assembly members Saturday and urged them to vote for Jones and Dargahi in the Executive Alliance runoff election. Maly said he believes Long’s action is tantamount to acting as an official campaign worker, although Long was never registered as such.

In the complaint, Maly said failing to list Long as a worker was a clear violation of the Election Code.

“The email indicates a clear and obvious coordinated connection between Long and the Jones campaign, as Long issued a formal invitation to a campaign-specific function on behalf of the candidates,” Maly said.

Long, a government senior, told The Daily Texan that he asked the SG Judicial Court whether newly elected representatives could endorse Executive Alliance candidates before he sent the email. The court told him endorsements were allowed, as long as he made it clear he did not speak on behalf of SG.

Long said he sent the email on his own accord and said he is not a campaign worker for Jones-Dargahi.   

“I wasn’t endorsing them on behalf of Student Government,” Long said. “I think that might have been misunderstood. It was an individual endorsement, [but] it was an unintentional consequence of it.”

The board will conduct a hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday to resolve the complaint. Voting for Executive Alliance runoffs continues Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Results will be announced at approximately 6 p.m. on the Main Mall.

Maly is simultaneously pursuing a complaint against Xavier Rotnofsky and Rohit Mandalapu, the other candidates in the runoff election. To read more about his second allegation of wrongdoing, click here.

For a full recap of platform points, candidate descriptions and Texan coverage of the Jones-Dargahi campaign, click here.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anika Agarwal and Sammy Minkowitz | Daily Texan Staff

The Election Supervisory Board suspended two Student Government candidates, University-wide representative candidate Anika Agarwal and Liberal Arts representative candidate Sammy Minkowitz, from campaigning for two days.

In a majority opinion, the Board concluded that Agarwal and Minkowitz violated the election code of “prohibited association” by showing support for other candidates. 

Graduate school representative candidate Katherine Jensen submitted a complaint to the Board, saying Agarwal solicited votes on behalf of Minkowitz via social media. In the complaint, Jensen said Agarwal’s support of Minkowitz on Facebook showed a clear collaboration between the two campaigns because Minkowitz did not “untag” herself in Agarwal’s endorsement photo in the two days following the original post.

“Sammy and Anika were kind of confused on whether they were associated,” Molina said. 

Agarwal said Minkowitz asked her to make her campaign photo Agarwal’s profile picture on Facebook, and Agarwal instead shared the photo on her Facebook wall. Agarwal said she did not consider her actions to be co-campaigning because she did not share the photo within her campaign page. 

“I didn’t really see it as co-campaigning,” Agarwal said. “It was a miscommunication and forgetting how open Facebook can be.”

Minkowitz said she had similar misunderstandings as to what co-campaigning meant. 

“I thought of co-campaigning as putting two candidates’ names on the same poster, two candidates speaking together or two candidates posting a campaign photo with both faces,” Minkowitz said. “I didn’t think I was co-campaigning, and nobody told me what I was doing wrong.”

Jensen also said Minkowitz showed public support for University-wide representative candidate Jonathan Dror. On Facebook, Minkowitz clicked that she was going to the event “Vote for Jonathan Dror,” and she also liked his Facebook page. The Board found that Dror was not in violation of the code.

According to the election code, candidates can not support other candidates unless the candidates are running together in an Executive Alliance campaign for Student Government president and vice president.  

“We take the prohibited association clause very seriously,” Board chair Nick Molina said. “We don’t want any students to get the idea that two candidates can run together.”

In their resolution, the Board said Agarwal was in direct violation of the election Code and Minkowitz received undue benefits from the prohibited association. Both candidates are suspended from campaigning between 7 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Monday. 

“Except in cases of a bona fide executive alliance as provided for in this code, no candidate is allowed to contribute financially or provide any other form of tangible support, including but not limited to campaign materials, to another candidate’s campaign,” the code says.

In addition to a temporary ban from campaigning, the Board required that Agarwal and Minkowitz no longer spend 10 percent of their total available campaign funds for their respective campaign races. University-wide representative candidates are allowed to spend $612, and college representative candidates may spend up to $408. 

“The way that I see it, it’s meant to not necessarily hurt the candidates. It’s meant to level the playing field,” Molina said. 

The two will be able to campaign again Monday night in time for the University-wide representative debate. 

Two U-Wide candidates forced into runoff, Villarreal-Wilkey to take GSA helm

Government and corporate communications senior Kori Rady embraces current Student Government president Horacio Villareal after being elected SG president Thursday night. Rady plans to deliver on platform points including an extended Thanksgiving break, creating a SafeRide program to taxi students home from downtown and creating an upperclassman shadowing day to pair freshmen with seniors.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

For a complete list of election results, scroll to the bottom.

After two days of voting and two hours of technical delays, Kori Rady and Taylor Strickland were elected Student Government president and vice president Thursday night.

Rady, a government and corporate communications senior, and Strickland, a corporate communications junior, defeated government senior Kenton Wilson and Caroline Carter, a marketing and international relations and global studies senior, with 51.9 percent of the vote. 

According to Election Supervisory Board chairman Ryan Lutz, 7,822 students voted in the election — a voter turnout rate of roughly 15.02 percent, using fall enrollment numbers. 

“We ran such a positive campaign,” Rady said. “I feel like we deserve all that has happened here tonight, and we can move forward and do great things for the University.”

In addition to the executive alliance election, students also cast ballots for University-wide representatives, representatives for each school and college, the president and vice president of the Graduate Student Assembly, Texas Student Media, the University Co-op and University Unions.

According to Lutz, the two-hour technical delay, which began when the voting website crashed 15 minutes before the polls closed, was caused by a third-party technical difficulty. Lutz said the board will resolve the issues before the runoff election for the eighth University-wide representative position, which will be held Wednesday and Thursday. The two candidates in the run-off, Wes Draper and John Brown, each received exactly 2,080 votes for the position. 

Rady continued campaigning on social media when it was announced that polls would close almost two hours later than expected. 

Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly said approximately 50 additional students voted between 5 and 6:45 p.m., when polling hours were extended.

“Technology can be your best friend, it can be your worst enemy and something somewhere in the middle,” Reagins-Lilly said. “I think people just understand technology can be unpredictable.”

Rady said he plans to deliver on platform points including an extended Thanksgiving break, creating a SafeRide program to taxi students home from downtown and creating an upperclassmen shadowing day to pair freshmen with seniors.

Wilson said he was happy his campaign was able to increase involvement among students who did not have Student Government experience.

“It was close, and obviously we would have liked to come out on top, but overall [Rady and Strickland] are highly qualified and they’ll do a great job next year,” Wilson said. 

The Election Supervisory Board heard four complaints Wednesday night, with one resulting in Graduate Student Assembly candidates David Villarreal and Brian Wilkey being forced to cease campaigning until 5 p.m. Thursday because of a campaign worker sending unsolicited emails. 

Despite the board’s decision, Villarreal and Wilkey won the executive alliance race for GSA. There were 507 graduate students who voted in the GSA presidential election.

Student Election Results

Executive Alliance: Kori Rady (President) and Taylor Strickland (Vice President)

University-Wide Representatives: Braydon Jones, Andrew "Cowboy" Rindler, Piper Vaughn, Taral Patel, Conner Patrick, Chandler Foster, Shannon Geison

The eighth university-wide representative will be determined in a run-off election March 5 and 6. Candidates John Brown and Wes Draper each received 2080 votes.

Student Government Representatives:

Architecture Representative: Valentina Rodriguez

Business Representatives: Jackson Clifford, John Falke, Meredith Rotwein

Communication Representatives: Ruben Cardenas and Marisa Beyerlein

Education Representative: Melysa Barth

Engineering Representatives: Jamie Nalley, Edward Banner, TJ Egeland

Fine Arts Representative: Austin Ferguson

GeoScience Representative: Jessica Sherman

Liberal Arts Representatives: Annie Albrecht, Sergio Cavazos, Tanner Long, Adit Bior

Natural Science Representative: Caroline Starling, Anish Patel, Cameron Crane, Adam Sacks, Donald Egan

Social Work Representative: Alissa Osgood

Undergraduate Studies Representative: Will Smith

Graduate Student Assembly: David Villarreal (President) and Brian Wilkey (Vice President)

University Co-op Board of Directors: Alex Bryan and Jake Schwartz

University Unions Board of Directors: Matthew Ealy and Vicky Nguyen

Campus Events + Entertainment President: Christopher Nickelson

The Daily Texan Editor-in-Chief: Riley Brands

Student Government president and vice president candidates Kori Rady and Taylor Strickland listen to their defense given by senior Kent Kasischke to the Election Supervisory Board regarding a complaint filed by finance senior Danny Zeng.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (3:10 p.m.): Thursday afternoon, the election supervisory board released an opinion to dismiss the complaint brought against the Rady-Strickland campaign. At a hearing Wednesday night, Danny Zeng, finance and government senior, accused the alliance of committing privacy violations by sending him unrequited emails.

The board dismissed the complaint on grounds that there was a direct connection between Zeng and Rady-Strickland worker Joshua Tang, a history major.

Tang and Zeng both said they had a direct connection to each other through their involvement in Up To Texas, a case competition to raise awareness about the national debt deficit.

According to the opinion released by the board, “the executive alliance acted within campaign guidelines when collecting the plaintiff’s e-mail.”

Updated (11:40 a.m.): Thursday morning, the Election Supervisory Board determined the Villarreal-Wilkey executive alliance in the Graduate Student Assembly elections was guilty of sending of unsolicited emails and ordered the alliance to cease all campaigning until 5 p.m.

According to the board's opinion, “the worker, though ignorant that her actions were in direct violation of the Election Code, was found to be the source of mass emails sent to multiple, substantial academic listservs within graduate departments.”

The board determined the executive alliance committed a Class B violation and must remove all campaign material and cease all campaigning until 5 p.m.

The board released opinions on three of the four complaints it heard late Wednesday night. A resolution regarding the Rady-Strickland hearing in Student Government executive alliance elections has not been released.

ESB chose to dismiss the second complaint involving the Villarreal-Wilkey campaign. Their opposing candidates accused Villarreal and Wilkey of using platform points that were not their own. The board dismissed the case stating there was not enough proof to make a decision.

“We concluded that we could not determine any possible similarities between the platforms were a result of coincidence or not,” the opinion stated.

The board also dismissed a complaint against University Co-op Board of Directors candidate Ben Tillis in a case involving destruction of campaign property. The board determined there was not sufficient enough evidence.

Polls close at 5 p.m. Thursday and results are announced at 6:30 p.m. at the Main Building.

Original Story: Late Wednesday night, after the first day of voting, the Election Supervisory Board heard four allegations of misconduct, including one that the Rady-Strickland executive alliance campaign had violated students’ privacy by adding students to an email listserv without permission.

The hearings, which began at 10:30 p.m. and continued on past 1 a.m., also addressed two charges filed against Graduate Student Assembly executive alliance Villarreal-Wilkey including allegations they were campaigning on platform points that were not originally their ideas. The board also heard complaints from two candidate for the Co-op board of director position who claimed an opponent had torn down their fliers.

Danny Zeng, finance and government senior, accused Student Government presidential candidate Kori Rady and running mate Taylor Strickland of unauthorized use of his email address.

“I really don’t know the scope and reach of this operation,” Zeng told the board. “I just know my privacy is being intruded from the negligence on their part.”

History senior Joshua Tang and Kennon Kasischke, a biology and psychology senior, represented the Rady-Strickland campaign at the hearing. Tang, who is registered as a worker for the Rady-Strickland campaign, said he was not speaking in any way in his capacity as SG administrative director.

Tang said Zeng was added to the campaign’s listserv after Rady and Strickland asked their agents and workers to contact the leaders of the student organizations in which they held membership. Tang and Zeng both said they had a direct connection to each other through their involvement in Up To Texas, a case competition to raise awareness about the national debt deficit.

“The emails that I submitted were sent to people I know are engaged on political matters on campus,” Tang said.

Kasischke, a Rady-Strickland agent, said he felt the campaign team was selective in choosing whom the emails were sent to, and kept well within the boundaries of the guidelines about email messaging in the board’s code.

“If your team is using the directory to email someone you know, you need to have someone on your team to have a direct connection to him,” Kasischke said. “We developed a list of 668 emails.”

Zeng said he felt the campaign should not have assumed he wanted to get the campaign email.

“I appreciate what they said, but in this country, with mass marketing, we have an opt-in system rather than an opt-out,” Zeng said.

Tang asked the board to have the case dismissed. Board Chairman Ryan Lutz said the board was required to release a resolution and would have the response within 24 hours.

The board also addressed two separate complaints filed against Graduate Student Assembly presidential candidate David Villarreal and running mate Brian Wilkey. Their opponents, presidential candidate Frank Male and running mate Virginia Luehrsen, filed a complaint against executive alliance Villarreal and Wilkey over “misleading campaign activities.” Luehrsen said the duo claimed other candidates’ platform points as their own.

“Misrepresentation of facts and the work involved is damaging to our campaign and to the Graduate Student Assembly,” Luehrsen said. “If students did this in my class, I would report them to Student Judicial Services.”

Villarreal said he was alarmed by the lack of specifics the opposing candidates brought forward.

“We fundamentally believe it is our job to campaign for ourselves,” Villarreal said.

A second hearing was called to address allegations against Villarreal and Wilkey concerning an economics graduate coordinator forwarding an email to several departments endorsing their campaign.

Economics graduate student Anna Klis accused a worker of sending a Villarreal-Wilkey endorsement email to the economics graduate coordinator, which was then passed along through graduate departments in the College of Liberal Arts. Klis said she believed the email could be confused by graduate students as an endorsement by the college.

“In a case like this — this is almost cause for disqualification,” Klis said.

Villarreal said the worker had been his close friend for several years, and said she was likely unfamiliar with UT student election codes. Wilkey said if his team had been aware of the worker's plans to send the email, he and Villarreal would have prevented her from doing so.

“We apparently have a rogue agent — we are upset about this,” Wilkey said. “There may be no way to rectify this.”

The board also addressed allegations made by business senior Alexander Bryan and undeclared freshman Christian Trudeau, both candidates for the Co-op board of director position. Bryan and Trudeau claimed that finance sophomore Ben Tillis, who is also running for the position, removed their campaign fliers in the McCombs School of Business.

Bryan said he and Trudeau could not offer proof Tillis had torn down the fliers because they did not have video camera footage, but said he knew of at least nine fliers that had disappeared that were at one point clearly visible in McCombs.

“It seems like somebody was directly targeting [Trudeau] and I’s campaign,” Bryan said.

In response, Tillis said his fliers were also removed from their original locations and encouraged the board to check security footage. ESB chairman Ryan Lutz said he would consult with McCombs representatives Thursday.

At roughly 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning, when the hearings ended, Lutz said the board would release resolutions for all four allegations within 24 hours. Student election polls will close Thursday at 5 p.m.

Additional reporting by Bobby Blanchard

Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

Update: Three candidates for University-wide representative positions were found guilty of campaigning in association with each other, and have been banned from campaigning for two days, according to Ryan Lutz, chairman of the election supervisory board.

The three candidates, Chandler Foster, rhetoric and writing sophomore, Piper Vaughn, nursing sophomore, and Adrienne Gamez, corporate communications junior, were reprimanded by the supervisory board after an anonymous tipster filed a complaint the three students had been campaigning together. In addition to a two-day ban on campaigning, each student will also be fined ten percent of the total available expenditures for the University-wide representative candidates. Typically, each candidate can spend up to $612 campaigning.

In a statement issued by the board, each candidate was found guilty of campaigning in a way that did not distinguish the students from each other.

"The candidates made no attempt to distinguish themselves as individual candidates besides stating their individual names," the statement read. "There was no distiction between platform points offered during the event. The candidates admitted to visiting up to nine distinct organizations on [Feb. 17], all as a group."

Original story: An anonymous student filed the first complaint of the Student Government election season against three University-wide representative candidates, but did not show up to the resultant Election Supervisory Board hearing because he said he was “put up to” filing the charge.

In his allegation, filed Monday, the anonymous student alleged that University-wide representative candidates Chandler Foster, rhetoric and writing sophomore, nursing sophomore Piper Vaughn and corporate communications junior Adrienne Gamez appeared together at the Sigma Chi fraternity house to give a speech encouraging fraternity members to vote for all three candidates as a group.

“This gives them an unfair advantage over other candidates whom campaign on their own,” the anonymous student said in an email.

Student Government election code prohibits “joint, collaborative campaigning, planning or activities” and says “all non-executive alliance candidates in the election must campaign separately, without written or verbal endorsements, collaboration, financial or other tangible support from any fellow candidate in any campus-wide election.”

The student who originally filed the complaint did not show up to the meeting. In an email to the Election Supervisory Board and the three accused candidates, the student said he was not aware of the repercussions his complaint would have.

“I will not be there tonight at 10:30 [p.m.],” Vaughn said, reading aloud from the email. “I was put up to this. I had no idea what it would mean for these girls or for me.”

Ryan Lutz, chairman of the Election Supervisory Board and aerospace engineering senior, said the original complainant did not want to pursue his allegations but said the board will investigate the charges anyway.

“Since the complaint has been submitted we have a duty to follow up with it,” Lutz said.

According to Lutz, the board will change the way future complaints are handled to prevent accused candidates from harassing those who report them.

“We’re going to change some of the ways we contact people when a complaint comes in,” Lutz said. “[Candidates] know the name of the person who does the complaint but they’re not going to know any email addresses or phone numbers because we don’t want any harassing or anything going on.”

John Brown, government sophomore and a candidate for University-wide representative, was asked to speak on behalf of the complainant.

Vaughn said the group did not go to the house with the intent of campaigning together and emphasized they had separate platform points and social media pages.

Foster said it would not benefit the group to campaign together.

“We all know we’re running against each other,” Foster said. “It doesn’t add to our benefit to run as a group.”

The board will make its decision within 24 hours.

Sandra+Shank campaign will not be on the Student Government ballot

Sandra Ogenche and Justin Shank will no longer be on the Student Government executive alliance ballot.

Election Supervisory Board vice-chairman Ryan Lutz said Ogenche was notified of an ineligibility problem with her filing before the candidate seminar Jan. 12, though the board and the Dean of Students gave an extension to resolve the issue. Lutz said the board decided to remove their names from the ballot Tuesday, after the alliance failed to solve the problem during the extension period.

Ogenche is a government and pre-entry public health junior and Shank is a biology senior.

“There was evidence to suggest that it was an administrative error and that it would be corrected quickly,” Lutz said. “With that knowledge in mind, the ESB and [Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly] gave her almost a day-by-day extension for her to go ahead and straighten out any issues she had.”

Because the alliance's file was pending they were asked by the Dean of Students to stop campaigning Monday night.

“She was not considered a candidate at all during that time. She was in a pending status and therefore was not eligible to campaign,” Lutz said. “Unfortunately she has just run out of time, we have to release the ballot tomorrow and it just came down to not having all the ducks in a row.”

After a closed meeting Tuesday night, the board issued a resolution stating that the alliance had not met the requirements outlined in the Student Government Constitution to participate in the election. The resolution also states the issue involves information protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy, so the board could not disclose specific details.

Court upholds Gardner and Guevara disqualification

 

The Student Government Judicial Court upheld the disqualification of former SG presidential candidates Madison Gardner and Antonio Guevara and denied their appeal of the Election Supervisory Board’s disqualification today.

 

Gardner and Guevara petitioned the court for a rehearing of the complaints that disqualified them last week, claiming the Board had committed procedural error and subsequently violated their Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. The court stated they agreed with the Board’s judgment to disqualify the candidates because they failed to file accurate financial disclosure statements.

 

At the hearing, Alden Harris, Judicial Court chief justice, said while the court should look to the U.S. Constitution for guidance, the document applies specifically to Congress and state actors.

 

Gardner stated the decision disqualifying him and Guevara violated procedure for several reasons. Regarding their disregard of an earlier fine issued by the Board, he stated the Board failed to give him and Guevara 24-hour notice of a complaint filed against them and build a council for their defense. He also said the complaint was filed by Board chair Eric Nimmer, who is prohibited from making complaints under the Election Code.

 

The court affirmed Nimmer did not file a complaint against Gardner and Guevara, although he did address concerns not filed in the original complaint filed by SG law school representative Austin Carlson.

"

Gardner also stated Sunday this was a violation of his Sixth Amendment right under the U.S. Constitution, which grants him the right to be informed of any complaint against him to build a council for his defense.

 

Aakash Kumar represented Gardner at the hearing and said the court should judge their decision by a document that governs the United States, not by the judgment of the Election Supervisory Board.

 

"The ESB is not a court of law," the court said in a statement issued today. "And though certain procedural safeguards do exist to protect the candidates from prejudice or insufficient process, the code is designed to permit the ESB enough procedural leeway to hear and decide complaints in a timely and efficient manner."

 

John Lawler and Thor Lund are the only presidential candidates that remain. Elections will be held March 28 and 29.

I’d like to express my disappointment with the letter to the editor published Wednesday by Madison Gardner. While I appreciate The Daily Texan giving him the opportunity to provide some closure to this mess of an election, Gardner squandered his chance by again complaining about his perceived persecution. Time after time, he and his running mate have refused to take responsibility for their actions and have given the impression that they felt the rules didn’t apply to them. His entire third paragraph is devoted to “not” expressing how his disqualification for breaking the rules upended democracy as we know it at UT. After seeing the same kind of people always get elected to Student Government, I applaud the Election Supervisory Board showing that election isn’t a free ride; you have to play by the rules.

Christopher McBryde
Aerospace engineering graduate student 

Winning candidate Thor Lund talks on the phone Thursday night after the Student Government results were announced to more than 80 supporters. Lund and his running mate Wills Brown captured the presidency with 2,571 votes over John LawlerÂ’s 2,112.

Photo Credit: Rebeca Rodriguez | Daily Texan Staff

Weeks of campaigning, candidate disqualifications and judicial review culminated in a Thursday gathering of more than 80 supporters for Student Government presidential candidates John Lawler and Thor Lund.

Lund and running mate Wills Brown captured the presidency with 2,571 votes, defeating Lawler, who received 2,112. A total of 4,483 students voted.

The campaign period extended from Feb. 15 to March 29, about six weeks compared to the usual two. Voter turnout for the presidential and vice presidential race decreased about 41 percent compared to last year, when 7,883 students voted in the runoff election for current SG president Natalie Butler and former presidential candidate Abel Mulugheta.

In 2010, 8,654 students voted in the presidential runoff, with president-elect Scott Parks receiving 4,801 and opponent Minator Azemi receiving 3,853.

This year is the first time the Election Supervisory Board disqualified two presidential candidates since SG outlawed the ticket system in 2008, in which students could run together under a party or banner that year in order to give each candidate a fair chance at getting elected.

Lund has never been involved in SG and said he is facing a sharp learning curve. While he and Brown started alone at the beginning, Lund said the most challenging part of campaigning was wondering if elections were ever going to happen.

“A lot of people were wondering if we were ever going to have this day,” Lund said. “With each challenge we grow stronger. We’ve come out so much stronger and better after this. It has been a blessing in disguise.”

Lund said he ran a campaign focused on the students and wants to provide 24-hour access to the Perry-Castañeda Library, renovate Anna Hiss Gym and provide healthier late-night food options, among goals. Lund said he and Brown bring a new perspective to SG, and he invites everyone to get involved.

“Don’t be discouraged,” Lund said. “Anyone who wants to get involved, get involved. Me and Wills have no bias against anyone and we’re very excited.”

Lawler said he is surprised at the low voter turnout. He said during the election he did not anticipate Madison Gardner would sue UT, the prolonging of the elections or running with two great candidates like Lund and Brown. Lawler said he is grateful for the students who supported his campaign.

“What would I do differently, I would say not a thing,” Lawler said. “There have been several things that were out of our control, but at the end of the day, Terrence and I are very proud of the issues-based campaign we ran.”

Lawler said he would continue to be involved with SG as much as possible and fulfill his campaign promise to fight for students at UT and in West Campus. He said he would welcome any opportunity to work with Lund and Brown next year.

Former presidential candidate Madison Gardner was disqualified twice, once on Feb. 22 and again on March 21, for violating the SG Election Code. Former candidate Yaman Desai was disqualified on Feb. 20 for misrepresenting his campaign and committing fraud.

Gardner said Monday he expected voter turnout to be low this year because students had not been given the chance to elect their own SG president and vice president because of the disqualifications. With more than 100 campaign volunteers, Gardner had one of the largest campaign teams this year.

Election Supervisory Board chair Eric Nimmer said elections were different this year because there was a functioning Election Code and judicial body to make sure rules and procedure were being carried out.

“In prior years, if something happened the Election Code could not be drawn out,” Nimmer said. “We have a functioning means to [address] bad behavior.”

Dean of Students Soncia Reagins-Lilly said she will be working with Lund and Brown during the next few weeks to address changes to the Election Code. The code encountered scrutiny when Gardner filed a lawsuit against the University on Feb. 27, claiming the association provision in the code violated his constitutional rights.

“Every [SG] group is different,” Reagins-Lilly said. “There is a new group of students and they’re learning. They’ll have to rethink and clarify the [Election Code], and I have confidence in the student governing process.”

Printed on Friday, March 30, 2012 as: SG candidate Lund takes presidency