Junior Jason Lifton won the Student Association presidency Thursday with 51 percent of the vote, but alleged campaign violations threaten the outcome of the election for executive vice president.
Juniors Logan Dobson and Rob Maxim received the most votes in the EVP race, but neither reached the 40 percent threshold required to win – automatically triggering a runoff. But the Joint Elections Committee said that based on the number of complaints considered so far, Maxim could be disqualified if convicted of all penalties filed against him. The JEC declined to elaborate on the complaints filed against Maxim, saying they are sealed.
If Maxim is disqualified, EVP candidate Jon Binetti, who came in third, would take his place. Binetti garnered 24.8 percent of the vote, while Maxim took 26.3 percent and Dobson got 27.8 percent.
The JEC met Friday night to consider probable cause on only the first half of a “record number of complaints” filed during the campaign and election period. But the JEC will consider the rest of the violations Wednesday and hold subsequent hearings later in the week, meaning the number of complaints against any of the candidates could rise. Complaints for violations must be filed within three days of the alleged violation, but there is no official deadline for submitting complaints.
More than 100 complaints have been filed so far, on charges that include unauthorized postering, Facebook group misuse and dorm-storming violations.
According to the JEC Charter, if a candidate accumulates six or more election violations, they can be disqualified. Last year, then-Executive Vice President Kyle Boyer was removed from the runoff election for president after accumulating too many violations.
As of Friday night’s meeting, neither Lifton nor Binetti had received any complaints, and Dobson had received two, Chervinsky said. EVP candidate Josh Goldstein, who finished fourth, received enough to be disqualified had he won, and presidential candidate Xochitl Sanchez received enough to be disqualified twice, JEC chairman Jake Chervinsky said.
The JEC will hold hearings on the first half of the violations Monday and Tuesday, during which candidates may testify in their own defense.
Despite the record number of complaints, Chervinsky said he was pleased with the overall election process. About 4,100 students voted in the presidential race, up from about 3,950 last year.
“We’re proud of the voter turnout, but we’re disappointed with the number of complaints that were filed,” Chervinsky said.
Maxim criticized the violations process and said he planned to fight the charges brought against him.
“These charges are a perfect example of the rules that inhibit the SA, particularly when they keep the candidates that the students chose off of the ballot,” Maxim said.
The election results were announced Thursday night in the Marvin Center in front of a large crowd of candidates and their friends. When the vote for president was announced, Lifton’s supporters hoisted him into the air, cheering and reciting Sigma Chi chants.
“After a clearly successful year, after a bunch of things were accomplished, the students said what they wanted,” Lifton, the SA’s current executive vice president, said. “I will continue fighting for students, advocating and doing what we’ve been doing all year.”
The JEC’s announcement that joke candidate Steve Holt actually received enough votes to win a Senior Class Council seat was greeted with cheers and laughs. Holt, a fictional character on the television series “Arrested Development,” is also in a three-way tie for a Marvin Center Governing Board graduate seat.
The JEC noted in the final results on their Web site that they do not believe Steve Holt is an actual person. As such, both seats could require runoff elections.
If a Steve Holt were to come forward as a real GW student, it would be “a hilarious turn of events,” Chervinsky said.