The Joint Elections Committee removed four candidates from the race for Student Association Senate this week after they failed to attend a mandatory candidates’ meeting.
The JEC – the organization that governs the upcoming campus elections – disqualified Mark Richman and Michael Pascal, both candidates for Elliott School of International Affairs seats.
Qasim Cheema, who was running to represent the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences, and Lou Fantozzi, a candidate for the School of Business and Public Management seat, also were taken off the ballot.
Candidates have the right to appeal a sanction to the JEC. The JEC is required by its rules to make a decision on a candidate’s appeal within two days of the appeal.
JEC Chair Terry Goddard said Fantozzi and Pascal filed appeals by the Wednesday night deadline.
“I haven’t made a decision on these two appeal letters,” Goddard said Wednesday. “I will have to look into them in-depth.”
Cheema said he was involved in a car accident Monday, which prevented him from attending the mandatory meeting.
Goddard said Wednesday afternoon he would put Cheema back on the ballot if the candidate could prove the accident occurred.
But Cheema also did not file an appeal with the JEC by the 5 p.m. deadline Wednesday, so Goddard said he was not eligible to be put back on the ballot.
Cheema said, however, he plans to appeal to the JEC. But he will not appeal to get back on the ballot for a Senate seat – he will run for the Marvin Center Governing Board at-large position.
“He would have to test the (Student) Court’s jurisdiction and take us to court,” Goddard said.
Richman, who also did not appeal, said problems with public transportation prevented him from attending the meeting.
Goddard said Richman’s excuse was unacceptable.
Richman said he understood the JEC’s reasoning.
“It sounds relatively fair,” Richman said. “If you don’t show up to the meeting then you shouldn’t be on the ballot.”
The JEC also ousts candidates who have amassed $50 in fines. The JEC fines candidates who have violated JEC rules by distributing unapproved literature, failing to comply with election regulations or campaigning in various areas on campus.
Candidates put down a $50 deposit from which fines are deducted. Any remaining funds are returned to the candidates at the end of the election.
Goddard said fines have been mounting quickly this campaign season.
“In one evening, we fined 13 people a total of $130 in fines,” he said.
Goddard said the most common fine is for handing out material which has not been approved by the JEC and for campaigning in residence halls.
Rule violations must be submitted in writing to the JEC, and Goddard said it is sometimes difficult to determine the legitimacy of a violation report because they are often submitted by opposition campaign workers.
“It certainly creates a level of skepticism,” Goddard said. “I spend a lot of time investigating.”