Judiciary Council Voids Election Results
Issue   |   Fri, 05/09/2014 - 21:59

The Judiciary Council has voted to void the results of the Association of Amherst Students presidential election, leaving the AAS temporarily without a president.

In their ruling, newly elected Judiciary Council members Andrew Edelman ’15, Alex Merkovich ’17 and Savannah West ’15 voted unanimously to overturn the previous Judiciary Council’s April 15 ruling, which had held that none of the candidates in the presidential runoff overspent on their campaigns. The new Judiciary Council found that the winning candidate, Amani Ahmed ’15, exceeded the $45 spending limit when she spent $20.35 on campaign posters that she never used in addition to the $39.40 she spent on campaign posters she did use.

The Judiciary Council’s decision comes after an April 25 referendum in which the student body voted to void the previous Judiciary Council’s April 15 ruling and change the constitution’s definition of campaign expenditures.

The new definition of campaign expenditures listed in the constitution includes “any and all expenses including but not limited to any purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, gift of money, or anything of monetary value made by the candidate, on behalf of the candidate, or given to the candidate for the purposes of influencing any election from the campaign’s inception.” Under this definition, posters that are printed for the purposes of influencing a campaign would be counted as campaign expenditures even if they were never used.

The Judiciary Council also received a complaint on the April 25 referendum alleging that the constitutional procedure for voting on referenda had not been followed. In a May 1 decision, the Judiciary Council voted that the complaint was not enough to invalidate the referendum’s results.

Although the referendum voided the Judiciary Council’s initial ruling that Ahmed had not violated the spending limit, it did not disqualify Ahmed from the election. However, the Judiciary Council’s most recent ruling determined that Ahmed could not have been constitutionally elected president, because she was in violation of the original constitution’s definition of campaign expenditures as well as the referendum’s definition.

“The voting members of the JC found the clarified definition of ‘total campaign expenditures’ as defined by the 4/25 referendum to be synonymous with the definition of ‘total campaign expenditures’ in the AAS constitution prior to the referendum,” the ruling read.

Although at a special senate meeting on Wednesday, the senate initially voted to overturn this ruling, the senate reversed its decision in a second vote later that night. As a result, the Judiciary Council’s ruling still stands.

Ali Rohde ’16, the chair of the AAS Elections Committee, said that the committee has chosen to hold an election at the start of next semester.

“We decided that it was neither feasible nor fair to hold one during exams, so it will be held during the first few weeks of school in the fall,” Rohde said.

The Judiciary Council has determined that any previous candidate, including Ahmed, will be able to run. Other eligible students will be allowed to run as well, even if they were not candidates in the previous election.

“I personally do not think the candidate in question intentionally violated the constitution,” Merkovich said. “For that reason, I personally believe that it is fair to allow all candidates to run again, now that the 4/25 referendum has clarified the constitution.”

The classes of 2015, 2016 and 2017 will vote in next fall’s election. The class of incoming first-years will not be eligible to vote.

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