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Your Party awaits court’s decision on campaign

BY MICHELE DANNO | APRIL 21, 2009 7:30 AM

As UI Student Government elections wind down, a decision regarding Your Party campaign tactics is still being mulled over — now by the Student Judicial Court.

Rob Pick, a campaign manager for Go Party, filed a complaint with the Student Elections Board on March 29 regarding e-mails allegedly sent from Your Party to all resident assistants on campus.

His complaint claimed these e-mails were in violation of the Elections Board’s code because they were “massively distributed” on March 26 and March 29, before campaigning officially began March 30.

But Emily Grieves, the presidential candidate for Your Party, said e-mails were only sent to two RAs — which, she said, is “completely within the rules.”

“If you couldn’t speak with people before the campaign period started, then campaigns wouldn’t exist,” Grieves said. “That’s why personal correspondence is protected in the Student Elections Board’s code. [Go Party] tried to say that it was early campaigning, which it was not.”

Pick also submitted complaints that Your Party candidates posted a YouTube video and created four Facebook groups too early. But those claims were thrown out for various reasons — for example, the YouTube video was posted at 11 p.m. western time, which, in Central time, was after campaigning kicked off.

Kendall Sater, a co-director of the elections board, said her committee recently ruled that Your Party should lose 250 votes from the e-mail accusation.

“There was evidence submitted through e-mails that we found to be early campaigning,” Sater said. “So we found it guilty.”

This is the first year the board can impose voter penalties on parties, she said; previously, parties were punished with monetary fines.

“We thought that, in order for people to be following the code, we would have to take away votes,” Sater said. “We thought anything lower than 250 votes wouldn’t make much of an impact, so that was the number we agreed upon.”

But Your Party candidates have since appealed the decision twice — first to the Elections Board citing “procedural errors,” who upheld its initial ruling, and then to the Student Judicial Court. The court is set to reach a decision today, said Bill Nelson, the director of the UI Office of Student Life.
Sater admitted there were errors in the Elections Board’s ruling, but she does not blame her committee.

“The code that was supposed to be the right code was never sent to us through the executives of UISG,” she said. “Yes, there was procedural error, but it could have been avoided if there was more communication between the executive branch and the Student Elections Board.”

Nelson, who oversees the Student Judicial Court, noted in his six or seven years of dealing with elections, something has been appealed to the court every year.

Sater said the court has three options: uphold the initial decision, overturn it, or send it back to the board.

“Right now, it’s completely in [the court’s] hands,” she said.

If Your Party candidates still aren’t satisfied with the court’s decision, they can ask current UISG President Maison Bleam for a pardon or appeal the ruling to UI President Sally Mason.
Bleam, who has outwardly supported Your Party, said he will wait until the court rules on the case before considering any petition for a pardon.

But Your Party members remain confident they have run a “clean campaign,” and they say they’re concerned with taking away students’ votes.

“We have stayed within the rules,” Grieves said. “But a lot of people are looking for a way to find something we did wrong.


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