With elections around the corner, the student body deserves an election with integrity. So far, the Joint Elections Committee is off to a really bad start. The organization that governs our elections is already eroding confidence in our future elected leaders. At the current rate, we are poised for another election tainted with scandal.
Election problems started when the Marvin Center Governing Board appointed Justin Neidig to the JEC. Neidig is one of the most motivated and hard-working politicians I have ever met. Although I respected him as a colleague in the Senate last year, I have no respect for the decision to place him on the JEC to run student elections. Since the “Clean Slate” ticket beat him last year in his election to become a senator, Neidig has shown himself to be unethical and corrupt. Through alleged acts of impropriety, Mr. Neidig has shown that fairness and honesty may not be his top priorities.
Soon after being elected chair of the JEC, Neidig personally filed multiple violations against Ben Traverse’s “Coalition for Reform.” For transparency’s sake, I did run with Traverse on last year’s “Clean Slate,” though I have not pledged my support for any candidate in this year’s election. Because of their past rivalry and the fact that the violations were filed by Neidig, Traverse asked that Neidig reccuse himself from the case. Neidig refused, demanding to be the witness, judge, jury and executioner. But far worse than that, Neidig’s JEC broke their own charter just to go after the Coalition for Reform. The integrity of the upcoming election is already tarnished by the JEC’s disregard for their own rules. Before online rules even existed, the Coalition of Reform was still found in violation of campaigning online.
One member of the JEC, Christopher Jenkins, is known in the Student Association for his integrity and neutrality. Second in line to the chair, Jenkins served in the past as Senate Parliamentarian, senator and has mastery over all Student Association governing documents. As a graduate student, he is widely considered to be unbiased and fair in all of his political dealings on campus. Jenkins opposed Neidig’s efforts to unfairly target the Coalition for Reform. In his dissenting opinion regarding the violations against the Coalition, Jenkins carefully explains why such violations would be impossible. He writes, “At the time the complaints were filed, no such rules had yet been promulgated for the 2005 cycle and ex post facto enforcement is a blatant violation of due process.”
It is hard for me to believe that the JEC just made another mistake. It only takes seven violations for a candidate to get kicked off the ballot. Right now, the JEC has tagged Ben Traverse and Morgan Corr, the top of the Coalition for Reform ticket, each with four violations for campaigning online. There was not a mistake. The JEC, led by Neidig, is trying to kick the Coalition for Reform off of the ballot. They don’t care that they are breaking their own rules. They don’t care that students will continue to lose faith in Student Association elections. They don’t even care if they look corrupt. For Neidig, this is personal. Neidig and his roommate have been going after Ben Traverse for months before elections even started. Neidig attacked Traverse in The Hatchet and submitted legislation to the Senate to mock Traverse. Without question, Neidig is out to get Ben Traverse.
After last year, seeing the JEC get away with such corruption makes me sick. Although I do not expect the chair of the Marvin Center Governing Board to remove Neidig, it is obvious that she should. The JEC is ruining it for all of us right now. By abusing their power to try and get candidates kicked off of the ballot, Neidig and the JEC are destroying confidence in our election process.
-The writer, a junior majoring in political science, is a Hatchet columnist.