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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

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Class of 2018 president fights disqualification

A hotly contested election season did not end when the polls closed Friday afternoon.
Sam O’Rourke, the incumbent president of the Class of 2018, was disqualified from the race after not filing an expense report. O’Rourke has filed an appeal with the Student Government Association’s Judicial Court in regards to his disqualification following a resounding victory over challenger Beni Kashala.
O’Rourke, who won 78 percent of the vote, said his campaign did not spend any money, but he was disqualified for not turning in an expense report. O’Rourke said this changes the required documentation from an expense report to a null-expenditure statement, of which the penalties an omission are far less explicitly outlined.
“The official statement made by EC when asked about why I was disqualified, which was rendered only after I made an inquisition, was that I failed to file an expenditure report,” O’Rourke said. “We’re arguing that because I didn’t spend any money. It is not a withheld financial report, but rather an overlooked null expenditure statement.”
Emma Douglas, election commissioner for the Student Government Association, said the requirements were clearly stated and thus his disqualification was justified.
“The facts of the 2018 case are that [O’Rourke] did not turn in an expense report, so I disqualified him,” Douglas said. “My side would be that it was clearly stated in multiple forms that you had to turn in an expense report. That’s why I disqualified him, because he wasn’t following the rules.”
O’Rourke argues that the impact of not reporting that his campaign spent no money is negligible, and going against an overwhelming majority of voters would bring flaws into the election system.
“We don’t want the elections to be about null expenditure statements, we want them to remain being about the student body as a whole,” O’Rourke said.
Beni Kashala, who finished as runner-up in the unofficial election results but was declared the winner after O’Rourke’s disqualification, said the documents in question were presented as a requirement to run.
“The O’Rourke campaign failed to turn in an expense report and/or a null-expenditure report,” Kashala said. “These documents are deemed ‘necessary’ by the commissioner, according to the Election Commission website. From what I’ve gathered, candidates getting automatically disqualified for not turning in one of those above mentioned documents is common procedure in the election process.”
Douglas backed up this deduction and said non-existent expenditure reports are one of the leading causes of disqualifications in races campus-wide.
“The only reasons for disqualifications were not attending the mandatory meeting and not turning in the report. The vast majority of expense report disqualifications were from not turning one in,” Douglas said.
O’Rourke vs. Douglas will be heard by J-Court at 7:10 p.m. Monday in Rudder 410.

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