By Laura Place
The Associated Students Elections Board found three candidates in the 2019-2020 AS Executive Board Elections to have violated multiple sections of the recently amended AS Election Code in a grievance hearing on May 9. An email sent to former AS presidential candidate Abdul Malik Ford by 2019 Election Board Chair Bennett Massey-Helber outlined the sections of the code that were broken by newly elected AS Executive Board members Trever Mullins, Lani DeFiesta and Grace Drechsel.
Ford filed grievances against the three then-candidates, along with others, on May 6. He claimed that the candidates violated the AS Election Code by sharing a social media post made by 2018-2019 AS VP for student life Anne Lee on May 2, which endorsed candidates DeFiesta, Drechsel, Mullins and Yesugen Battsengel in a Facebook post.
The board specifically ruled that by sharing the post, the three candidates violated code section 3.II.a, which states that candidates will adhere to the Candidate Conduct Agreement in the candidate filing packet. The board also ruled the candidates violated code section 3.IV.a, which states that “current AS employees, may not, as employees or individuals, endorse candidates,” according to the email.
The board decided the punitive action for breaking the code was for Mullins, DeFiesta and Drechsel to submit a public statement to The AS Review and The Western Front, citing a “restorative justice model.” Here are their statements:
The grievance filed against me pertained to sharing an endorsement from the current VP for Student Life, Anne Lee, on my Instagram during elections week. While I was familiar with the AS Elections code, it was not clear by sharing their endorsement I was breaking election code. I am grateful a process exists within the Associate Students to hold those involved in elections accountable for their actions. I am excited to begin my role in this position as ASVP for Sustainability and work to ensure that various perspectives and opinions are heard when assessing and editing election codes annually for clarity and accountability.
The grievance filed against me pertained to sharing Anne Lee, VP of Student Life, endorsement on my Instagram story. While I did not know sharing an AS Employee’s endorsement broke the elections code, I am grateful for the process in place to hold elected officials accountable for their actions. Next year will be imperative, in terms of discussing the election code. It will also be great that the Senate can be involved next year in looking over and voting the election code into practice.
A grievance was filed against me for sharing a screenshot of Anne Lee’s, sitting VP for Student Life’s, endorsement. I was not aware at the time of posting that sharing the endorsement would be a violation of the Election Code. I appreciate that this issue was brought to my attention and that mechanisms such as the Elections Board exist to hold elected officials accountable. I also believe that the confusion surrounding the code points to a need for it to be more clear and accessible to both candidates and students-at-large. I am looking forward to working to make these improvements in my role as the ASVP for Governmental Affairs.
The Front will continue to report on the results of the other six grievances filed by Ford against current AS board members Millka Solomon, Camilla Mejia, Levi Eckman and Anne Lee, and AS employees Pauline Elevazo and Dayjha McMillan.