Just when it seemed that he would be free to take place in this week’s run-off, Student Association presidential candidate Ben Traverse could be removed after the Joint Elections Committee found probable cause for new violations.
The winner of last week’s general election and Executive Vice President-elect Morgan Corr, who are both three violations away from being disqualified from the election, will find out Monday if they are each found guilty of four infractions.
The candidates, who ran on the Coalition for Reform slate, have been charged with two counts of failing to report palm cards as an expenditure on their election finance reports, a possible breach of campaign finance rules. They also face one count of failing to report a Monday night campaign rally at the Thai Place and one count of abusing their Senate powers by calling for a special Senate meeting two weeks ago week to review JEC rules.
Corr said the allegations are “frivolous, vile and reprehensible.”
“Some individuals bought food, but it was not a campaign event, so there was no campaign expenditure necessary,” Corr said Sunday in defense of the Thai Place social function.
The Hatchet obtained an e-mail from Eric Koester, president of the Student Bar Association, to the JEC explaining that his organization made and distributed the palm cards in question. He added that the coalition had no part in funding them.
If the JEC finds Traverse in violation of at least three of the four violations or finds that he exceeded his $650 campaign spending limit, Traverse would be disqualified from the election. In that case, third-place finisher Jon Ostrower would take his place in the run-off.
Less than half of the alleged violations brought against Traverse throughout the campaign season have been upheld by the JEC.
Traverse and fellow junior Audai Shakour edged out a field of seven candidates and were only separated by 12 votes in the general election held last week.
The JEC announced early Friday morning that Traverse earned the support of 839 students while Shakour received 827 votes.
“Twelve votes is the last 10 minutes of an election,” Shakour said Friday. “It shows how important it is to really get everyone you can out to vote, because just those couple of people can make or break it for you.”
Neither Traverse nor Shakour garnered 40 percent of the total presidential votes, a threshold needed to avert a second election and claim an outright victory.
Presidential candidate Jon Ostrower came in third place with 478 votes, and C.J. Calloway finished fourth with 461 votes.
In the EVP race, Corr crushed last-minute write-in campaigns from Tim Saccoccia and Asher Corson, receiving more than 80 percent of ballots cast.
Saccoccia received 212 votes after he announced his entrance into the race two days before the election, and Corson got 51 votes after announcing his candidacy the night before the second day of voting.
Despite electronic voting opening an hour late last week, the election was uneventful. The JEC encountered a computer glitch that made it impossible to access some computer votes while tallying for Senate races however, and it was unable to announce most of the undergraduate winners until late Friday morning.
“We knew it was going to be too close to call without the final online vote tallies so we had to hold off until this morning,” said Justin Neidig, chairman of the JEC. “No votes were lost, we just couldn’t see them online.”
In the Senate races, the Coalition for Reform took the vast majority of undergraduate Senate seats (see “Slate nearly sweeps Senate,” p. 6). Clinching one of two undergraduate at-large seats and all but one Columbian College of Arts and Sciences seats, the slate took a clean sweep of the Elliott School of International Affairs’ senate spots.
While the Coalition for Reform dominated the election, voter turnout was down by approximately 200 votes from last year, with 2,806 students voting for president this year.
The number of voting students may drop further in this week’s run-off, as it coincides with the Law School’s spring break. It is also the week before spring break for undergraduates, and many students traditionally leave early on Wednesday and Thursday. Traverse had a lot of support among Law School students.