Posted Friday, March 25, 1:32 p.m.
Updated 8:50 p.m.
The votes are counted. The winner has been announced. But the Student Association presidential run-off is far from being over.
Although junior Audai Shakour beat junior Ben Traverse by 31 votes in one of the closest elections in SA history, he still needs to beat several alleged campaign infractions before he can confidently assume the presidency.
“It’s definitely not over,” said Shakour Friday afternoon as he celebrated his win in J Street, where the results were announced to about 40 supporters of both candidates. “We got a long ways to go.”
Shakour will learn Saturday if he is found guilty of two violations the Joint Elections Committee discussed Thursday night. This week’s run-off election winner currently has four violations; his most recent infractions involve sending unsolicited campaign messages online and posting campaign signs in his fraternity house. The JEC will also hear Saturday three additional violations – which it has found probable cause on -against the president-elect.
If Shakour is found guilty of any three of the five violations facing him, he would be disqualified from the election for exceeding the seven-penalty threshold as outlined by the JEC charter.
“Any violation, I’m pretty concerned,” said Shakour, who captured 50.8 percent of the 1,931 ballots cast. “But hopefully it all works out in the end.”
Traverse currently has five violations against him. The runner-up in the run-off election appealed to the Student Court on Friday to review the sixth penalty the JEC issued to him. The court decided they would hear the case Monday night and will ultimately decide if the violation concerning Traverse promising increased allocations to the Law School’s student bar association will stand.
Traverse also faces a violation involving palm card distribution. The JEC plans to announce the finding of that infraction on Saturday as well.
Traverse called for a recount of the election returns after Friday’s announcement; the JEC will be recounting ballots before hearing arguments in the new violations on Saturday at 3 p.m.
After the results were announced, a visibly deflated Traverse said he would continue to fight the violations and wouldn’t have changed anything in his campaign.
“The students have obviously spoken,” he said. “They have spoken to give Audai a slight majority.”
“I have no regrets,” he added. “The campaign was won as it was. I’m not sorry about anything.”
The prospect of both candidates being disqualified cast a feeling of uncertainty over the run-off result announcement, which typically marks the end to the campaign season. Neither the JEC charter nor the SA Constitution outline what the next step would be if both candidates are booted from the election.
If Shakour is disqualified but Traverse remains under the seven-limit threshold, Traverse would be declared the winner, said JEC chairman Justin Neidig. Neidig added that the constitutionality of Traverse assuming the presidency is questionable, and would most likely be challenged by Shakour.
The JEC originally intended to release the run-off results late Thursday night, but delayed an announcement until 1:30 p.m. Friday because of the pending violations.