Archive for Monday, April 28, 2014

KU student election results released after weeks of uncertainty

April 28, 2014


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After being kept a mystery for more than two weeks, preliminary results of the Kansas University student body election were released over the weekend showing that the coalition Grow KU had won the executive spots and most of the Student Senate.

Even with the results, the dispute over student elections still has not been fully resolved. A student coalition disqualified from the elections had been left on the ballot but left out of the results, drawing complaints that the results are invalid.

More than 4,300 students turned out to vote in the elections on April 10, representing a nearly 18 percent turnout. Morgan Said and Miranda Wagner, of Grow KU, won the student body president and vice president spots, respectively.

"We were all glad there was somewhat of a resolution and answers to the questions we'd all been asking for the past couple of weeks," Said said.

Left out of the results was any mention of the Jayhawkers coalition. The Jayhawkers were disqualified days before the election on allegations made by Grow KU and another coalition, Crimson and True, that the Jayhawkers had spent $300 on food from Chipotle to win potential voters without reporting the expense to the Student Senate Election Commission, a violation of recently passed election rules.

The Jayhawkers appealed the decision by the Election Commission to disqualify them, prompting injunctions to keep the election results sealed while student and university judicial boards reviewed the matter.

The Jayhawkers' appeal ultimately landed in the lap of the University Judicial Board, a governance body made up of students, faculty and staff representatives. On Thursday the Board upheld the Jayhawkers disqualification, paving the way for the release of the results.

The Jayhawkers have argued the burrito money was spent on an internal coalition meeting, not to woo undecided voters. The Judicial Board found that the meeting included basic information about the Jayhawkers platform, making it unlikely that the meeting was for insiders only.

Coalitions are formed when candidates pool together their resources to run on a common platform. They are meant for campaigning purposes and are not intended to govern.

Candidates for the Jayhawkers couldn't be reached for an interview. On Thursday the coalition's Facebook account posted a link to a petition asking that the university "ensure that the results for the Jayhawkers coalition be released to increase transparency in the Student Senate election process." The petition had received 250 signatures by April 25.

In releasing the election results without noting votes for the Jayhawkers, the Election Commission issued an accompanying statement that said in part: "We believe that this is the best way to preclude misleading information from circulating and to fulfill our responsibility to ensure 'fair and honest elections,' as outlined in the Student Senate Rules and Regulations."

The election results from the weekend await certification from the commission and so are still not official. Rules call for results to be released ahead of the certification to allow time for complaints.

Jake Rapp, chair of the Elections Commission, said that two eligible voters had filed complaints before a Monday morning deadline alleging that the winning candidates had not won a plurality of the vote.

The Commission will hold hearings for the complaints Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. in the International Room of the Kansas Union. The certification of the results is scheduled for the same evening, but could be affected by the outcome of the hearings, Rapp said.


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