The votes are counted. The winner has been announced. But the Student Association presidential run-off is not over.
SA President-elect Audai Shakour, who won by 29 votes, one of the narrowest margins in recent SA election history, has five violations and would be kept from assuming his post if he is found guilty of two additional pending infractions.
“It’s definitely not over,” said Shakour, who captured 50.8 percent of the 1,931 ballots cast, as he celebrated his win in J Street Friday afternoon. “We got a long ways to go.”
At Saturday’s Joint Elections Committee meeting, Shakour defended himself against the two violations; he was found guilty of a fifth violation – for sending an unsolicited message online – bringing him two away from the seven-violation limit. Another violation involving Shakour traveling door-to-door in residence halls on a non-campaign day was thrown out by the JEC after Shakour’s counsel, Jeff Goodman, alleged that JEC counsel Brandon Sherr illegally attempted to plea bargain with the president-elect.
The complaint was then re-filed by Coalition for Reform Elliott School of International Affairs Senator-elect Elliot Gillerman. The runner-up in last Wednesday and Thursday’s election, Ben Traverse, is the leader of the Coalition of Reform slate.
“I believe that senators-elect filling frivolous violations against the president-elect is a dangerous way to start the new day of student government Audai will be ushering in,” Goodman said.
Goodman said Shakour and his entire team is “confident” he will assume the SA presidency by the end of the week. The JEC has until Wednesday to penalize candidates for violations.
“We are confident that any attempts to circumvent the mandate of the students will not withstand the committee’s scrutiny,” Goodman said.
Traverse has five violations against him and appealed to the Student Court on Friday to review the sixth penalty the JEC issued to him. The court decided it would hear the case Monday night and will ultimately rule if the violation concerning Traverse promising increased allocations to the Law School’s Student Bar Association will stand.
“At this point it’s up to the JEC and the court to decide the outcome,” Traverse said.
Traverse, who said he has no regrets from the campaign, said losing by 29 votes leaves a bittersweet feeling. Barring being found guilty of two more violations, he would assume the presidency if Shakour is disqualified.
“Until the JEC officially announces a winner, it remains to be seen if any violations brought against Audai gave him an unfair advantage in the campaign,” Traverse said.
“I have no regrets,” he added. “The campaign was won as it was. I’m not sorry about anything.”
“It’s not over,” senior coalition campaign manager Shauna Alexander said about the possibility of Shakour being disqualified from the election and Traverse assuming the SA presidency. “Anything can happen.”
Alexander said illegal campaigning by Shakour may have given him the edge in the election.
“We didn’t cheat,” Alexander said in response to two violations filed against Shakour alleging that he campaigned in residence halls Wednesday night.
Alexander questioned Shakour’s ability to lead in the SA.
“The SA president has to set the tone for the year,” Alexander said. “Audai has not yet made an opportunity to meet with us, he hasn’t yet stepped forward and become the leader this SA needs.”
Shakour, if appointed president, would be working with a Senate dominated by the Coalition for Reform, with 14 senators affiliated with the slate.
Jon Ostrower, the third-place finisher in the general election, said the key to Shakour’s victory was his broad support among undergraduates.
“Colonial Inauguration really gave Audai the edge,” Ostrower said, referring to Shakour being a member of the 2004 Colonial Cabinet.
-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.