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The Battalion

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Elected students lose positions due to absent expense reports

The Spring 2015 election saw the disqualification of 18 candidates, 10 of whom had amassed enough votes to win their positions.
Many of the disqualified candidates lost their campaigns because they failed to file an expense report. Several argue their disqualifications are unwarranted because they did not spend any money on their campaigns, and say it wasn’t made clear that an expense report was required in such a situation.
Emma Douglas, Student Government Association election commissioner and business honors sophomore, said there are a few ways a candidate can be disqualified from elections, namely by not showing up to the mandatory candidates meeting or by not turning in an accurate expense report.
Douglass said these disqualification standards are listed in the rules for candidates.
“We’re just wanting to make sure the elections are run in the most fair way possible,” Douglas said. “I’m more than open to any questions or suggestions as to how we can make that happen. I’m fine with these appeal cases.”
Paul Dutton, a computer engineering junior who ran for an off-campus residence senate seat, was disqualified for the not turning in an expense report. Dutton said the requirement to turn in a null report when a candidate does not spend any money is useless but doesn’t plan to appeal the disqualification.
“It seems only senior members were really aware of the rules, so these kind of tricky regulations seem to serve those already in power,” Dutton said.
Ally Shepherd, a Blinn team sophomore who ran for a College of Liberal Arts student senator seat, said she was disqualified for the same reason.
“I didn’t turn in my expense report because I didn’t spend any money on my campaign, and I wasn’t aware that we still had to fill one out even if we hadn’t spent any money,” Shepherd said. “In my opinion it wasn’t very clear, we weren’t reminded or specifically told to do one.”
Jasmine Jimenez, a political science junior who ran for a College of Liberal Arts senate seat, said she was surprised to receive a disqualification email for not filing a null expense report.
“I’m a very organized person, so before the semester starts, I’m that student that puts like all the exam dates in my planner, so this is something that wasn’t emphasized enough for me because if I would have known that if I didn’t submit that I was going to get disqualified, I would have made it a priority,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez had a friend file her appeal after finding out other candidates in similar positions were making a case before SGA’s Judicial Court.
“It’s really disappointing,” Jimenez said. “But I’m going to try to fight it.”
Andy Habib, a biomedical sciences junior who was elected as a College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences senator, was initially disqualified for failing to file an expense report but still won as a write-in candidate. Habib agrees the expense report process was confusing, and hopes to help clarify it as a senator.
“I was lucky enough to find a way to sneak in by getting a few write-ins,” said Habib who, as a write-in winner, was not required to file expense reports on the same timeline. “But I am getting some people together to present a bill to try to streamline the election process a bit, hopefully we can get enough support to simplify the election process for future Aggies interested in SGA.”
Douglas said Habib’s unique circumstance is allowed if the right criteria are met.
“You can file as a candidate and campaign like everyone else, however he did not turn in his expense report on time so he got disqualified,” Douglas said. “He emailed me and asked me if he could run as a write-in because those are two separate candidates and you don’t file at the same time. You can’t file in the same organization, but since he was disqualified there was still a window from him to run as a write-in and file later.”
Appeals hearings begin Monday night with a hearing for the Class of 2018 president candidate Sam O’Rourke, who was also disqualified for not filing an expense report.

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