Runner-up Holl asks for hearing

The MSA presidential runner-up wants the election committee to review its penalty rationale.

by Raj Chaduvula

The final results are in, but confusion that arose during the last stretch of campaigning for undergraduate student body president will likely linger past the election.
To review how rule violations by both candidates may have impacted the recent election’s results, Minnesota Student Association president runner-up Cameron Holl filed a request on Monday for a hearing by the All-Campus Elections Commission.
Holl’s team didn’t remove enough promotional stickers on campus before the election, and winner Abeer Syedah’s team went door-to-door knocking in the dorms during the voting period. The groups violated ACEC and Housing & Residential Life rules, respectively. 
In initial results emailed to both parties Friday, ACEC docked about 22 percent of Syedah’s votes as a penalty for the door-knocking.
On Sunday, the ACEC sent new calculations to candidates, which were adjusted for write-in and absentee ballots and did not dock Syedah’s votes. Instead, the committee decided to fine both parties, a penalty consistent with past rule violation cases, said Syressa Lewis, ACEC adviser. 
The ACEC removed the docking penalty from Syedah’s party because the rule violation’s impact couldn’t be measured, Lewis said.
In response, Holl filed the request for a hearing, which he said he hopes will determine whether it was appropriate to not dock votes from Syedah’s team.  
Holl said he thinks the ACEC should have implemented a stronger penalty. 
“We feel that ACEC said that both violations were equal,” Holl said. “[The door-knocking] is a much clearer violation of the rules.” 
Holl said the door-to-door campaigning was directly soliciting votes while the sticker plastering was not. He added he had instructed his volunteers to hand stickers out to supporters — not to paste them on campus property.
Both parties should have received hearings about their violations before ACEC decided on penalties, he said. The hearing would examine how violations from both parties may have affected results and whether the penalties were appropriate, he said.
Holl also said the ACEC didn’t effectively follow up about the sticker removal after sending him an initial warning via email to remove the stickers prior to the election.
When the ACEC contacted Syedah’s team regarding their violation, Syedah said, they immediately suspended the door-knocking at Middlebrook and Centennial halls.
When the ACEC docked percentage points of their vote in their results sent to both candidates Friday, Syedah said, her team also asked for a hearing. The hearing did not occur, and Syedah and vice presidential candidate Samantha Marlow accepted the fine, she said. 
“If Cam [Holl] and [his running mate] Nidhi [Khurana] are asking for an appeal, I am happy to go through that process,” Syedah said.