Past SA elections brew controversy

Controversy has shrouded GW Student Association elections for decades. Miscounted ballots, campaign violations and runoffs are just some of the headlines from the past. Here’s a run-down of the highlights:

2001 Election

In 2001, current SA President Roger Kapoor was stripped of his victory by the Joint Elections Committee for exceeding his $1,000 campaign budget limit.

Kapoor held a pizza party in Thurston Hall and listed the price of each pizza at a discounted rate of $5.50, rather than the actual price of $7.50. JEC rules state the candidate must list the “fair market value” of each pizza, rather than a discounted rate.

The SA student court overturned the JEC ruling and reinstated Kapoor’s presidency.

1999 Election

In 1999, the Joint Elections Committee removed five SA candidates from the ballot after they arrived more than 15 minutes late to a mandatory meeting. Four candidates proxied their attendance to SA presidential candidate Phil Meisner, but he also arrived late, causing himself and the other candidates to be thrown off the ballot.

Meisner and the four other students continued their candidacy through a write-in campaign.

On the second night of election returns, the JEC declared Alexis Rice president. But a recount the second day declared Rice one vote short of the necessary 40 percent needed to win. A runoff was conducted between Rice and Meisner, and he received more than 700 votes winning the election. SA and JEC members accused Meisner’s staff of ballot stuffing but no charges materialized.

Three JEC officials resigned amid the controversy. The chairman also resigned due to health reasons.

Meisner was then declared SA president, beating Rice by 124 votes. Meisner was later impeached for inappropriate use of SA funds.

1992 Election

In 1992, nine candidates ran for SA president, three times more than the 2002 election. The Hatchet’s choice for winner finished fifth, failing to garner 10 percent of the student body vote.

1989 Election

In 1989, voter turnout was the largest in GW history, with 3,261 students voting.

1979 Election

In 1979, Alex “Alec” Baldwin incited election controversy when he ran for GWUSA president, equivalent to today’s SA president.

Baldwin, then Program Board chair, placed third in the election. He was one vote behind the second-place finisher and just missed the chance to compete in a run-off with the first place candidate. Baldwin filed for a recount but remained one vote short after the count.

After the election, students wrote letters to The Hatchet complaining about Baldwin’s abilities as PB chair. The organization went bankrupt months before the end of the year, and campaign violations arose concerning a member of Baldwin’s staff.

Baldwin was registered at GW as Alex, but changed his name to Alec when he transferred to New York University after losing the election.

In Baldwin’s campaign statement, he wrote that “students do not want to despise their university administration. However, at GW, this prejudice appears to be unavoidable.” He also said, “It would seem that the administration is deliberately striving to keep its student body in the dark as to what they are doing with our money and our education.”

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