The Student Association Student Court will determine whether presidential candidate Roger Kapoor can remain in the race Thursday night as he contests two campaign violations levied against him by the Joint Elections Committee. The court put on hold violations for allowing community facilitators to post campaign fliers on their doors so Kapoor could stay on the ballot through Wednesday’s vote.
Kapoor’s counsel, Sen. Josh Rothstein (U-CSAS), said he will contest four other violations in court Thursday.
After the JEC handed Kapoor enough violations to remove him from the ballot Monday, three more complaints were filed against him the next day – including one for allegedly ripping down an opponent’s campaign posters, mailing unauthorized fliers and receiving two endorsement ads in The Hatchet from the College Democrats. The committee will review the complaints Friday.
The two violations the court postponed involved seven CFs who hung Kapoor posters on their residence hall room doors.
Kapoor’s counsel will argue that CFs are not on duty 24 hours a day and can campaign in their free time, said Evan McMorris-Santoro, Kapoor’s campaign manager.
Rothstein said he will also appeal three violations for at least one pizza party held in a Thurston Hall study lounge. The JEC said the event violates the bribery clause of the JEC charter because it was not reported to the JEC and food was served in a common area.
The last violation Rothstein said he will fight involves an e-mail Thurston CF Clint Hall sent to his residents without asking them if they wanted to receive campaign information. The e-mail, which invited residents to meet Kapoor, is considered illegal online campaigning.
Student Court Chief Judge Jon Rodeback granted a 24-hour stay on
two violations, and the five-member court agreed to extend it through the election, ordering the JEC to withhold SA election results until a decision is reached.
Ballot counting was originally scheduled to finish by 3 p.m. Thursday.
Kapoor’s case is the court’s first this year. Appointed by the SA president, justices can sit on the court until graduation or removal, according the SA constitution. The court includes Judges Matt Hillson, Ron Jacobs, Jeff Marootian, Alyson Rappaport and Chief Judge Jon Rodeback.
The process through which a complaint is filed and heard by the court usually takes two weeks, but the court granted a request filed by Kapoor’s council to expedite review, Rodeback said.
Rodeback said the court decided to hear the case because of possible permanent harm on GW’s student body. The judges were unable to comment on the specifics of the current case or court procedures.
“I can’t wait for this to be all over,” Kapoor said. “I just want to make sure the student voices are fully heard.”
“Other campaigns viewed violations as a political tool to slow or stop student voice,” McMorris-Santoro said. “We saw them as there to keep a level playing field.”
McMorris-Santoro said he fears invalid violations could usurp students’ votes.
“I am confident that we won the election, but feel like the student voice won’t be heard,” he said.
The Student Court can only make decisions based upon petitions that are brought before it. Therefore, the court could not call for a revote unless petitioned to do so, according to the SA constitution.
During the 1999 election, the court decided to remove then-presidential candidate Phil Meisner from the ballot, according to a March 1, 1999 Hatchet article. Meisner later won the election after running as a write-in candidate. The JEC charter now states that no individual who has received eight violations will be eligible to win any election as a write-in candidate.