Last Saturday, the Judiciary Council of the Association of Amherst Students released their decision on the election complaint concerning the elections held on April 5. The JC decided to nullify the results of the presidential and treasurer elections, while not punishing any of the elections’ candidates, and to run a new election for those two races. The JC also decided to release the results of the vice president, secretary and judiciary council chair positions.
The JC began its process Sunday, April 8 when it met to decide whether the complaint was valid or not. At that three-hour meeting, they decided that the complaint was valid. According to JC member Allan Landman ’14, it was “very easy” to decide that it was valid based on this evidence. During that meeting, they also deliberated on the specifics of the public hearing that was constitutionally-mandated.
That public hearing was held on Thursday, April 12. Every candidate that had run for an executive board position was invited to attend to provide their testimony, as were Ian Hatch ’14 and Alex Hurst ’12. However, they were not required to attend since there is nothing in the Constitution that would force them to attend the meeting. Everyone except A.S. ’13, D.C. ’14, J.M. ’13, and Alex Southmayd ’15 showed up at the hearing, although J.M. and Southmayd both submitted statements in their place.
During the meeting, Alex Hurst ’12, George Tepe ’14 and Tania Dias ’13 each made statements. Hatch gave his testimony as Elections Committee Chair and as the person who filed the official complaint. He repeated in his statement that the numbers Josh J.M. ’14 was reported to have received from D.C. ’14 matched those he had seen while monitoring election results Thursday night of the first elections. Every e-board candidate not part of the race for President or Treasurer confirmed that they had not received any information regarding the ballot numbers during the elections.
Following the public hearing the Judiciary Council, which included acting chair Cole Morgan ’13, Landman, Andrew Herrera ’14 and Christina Won ’15, met to discuss their decision. The JC went to IT for live results to see the behavior of the poll numbers throughout the day, but the Dean’s Office refused to release the results and records because they felt it violated the students’ privacy. The JC’s decision rested on whether or not anyone had illicit information that could have had an effect on the outcome of the election. They decided that it was likely that the treasurer election and presidential election would have been affected by this access, but the JC chose not to sanction anyone from the elections, due to a lack of concrete electronic evidence.
“But we heard no evidence or testimony that that information had affected the other races. So we let those races stand and called for re-elections for the presidential and treasurer elections,” Morgan said.
However, Landman disagreed with the rest of the JC’s decision to pass a neutral, rather than punitive, decision. In regards to the public trial, he felt that the fact that a substantial number of candidates did not show undermined the formal procedures and control of the Judiciary Council, and they should have been ordered to show up. Landman also disagreed with the administration’s decision to deny the JC results of who had accessed the website, stating that he did not believe it was an issue of privacy.
Regarding the elections, Landman said, “I was a firm believer that we should be at least barring these people from these next elections. They’re not running again, but that’s not the point. I believe that they shouldn’t run again [ever], seeing that they broke the entire system.”
He added that the ruling essentially disposed of the JC branch, setting a precedent in which it has no power.
“This was a slap on the wrist [for those involved with the complaint] ... What stops them from doing it again?” Landman said.
In an effort to prevent something like this past election from happening again, Noah Gordon ’14 introduced an amendment that was discussed during Monday’s Senate meeting. Under the new constitutional amendment, members of the election committee planning to run for an e-board position must resign from the committee. This amendment was unanimously passed by the Senate. As all members of the election committee are running for re-election, all of them have resigned in this period.
“[I wrote this amendment] because no one else was doing it, and I thought it needed to be done,” Gordon said. “When things aren’t going as good as they could be, we figure out a way to make them better.”
The JC’s final decision was released school-wide on Saturday, April 15. The email included a link to the election results from the vice president, secretary and JC chair elections. Gordon was the only one to secure his position as secretary. Jasjaap Sidhu ’14 and George Tepe ’14 will face in a run-off for the vice presidency, while Meghna Sridhar ’14 and Alex Southmayd ’15 will do so for the JC chair position. Nazir Khan ’14 and Matt Hartzler ’13 decided not to run in the run-off, despite qualifying for it.