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The dispute over Kansas University's student body election has gained a second life after an unofficial set of results showed the disqualified Jayhawkers coalition won a solid majority of the student vote.
The Student Senate Elections Commission had initially released figures for the election showing that the Grow KU coalition had won the president and vice president spot and most Senate seats.
But days later the commission released a "backend" version of the results showing that MacKenzie Oatman and Mitchell Cota, the Jayhawker candidates for president and vice president, respectively, picked up more than 61 percent of the student vote, and most other Jayhawkers candidates took majorities as well.
Released in response to an open records request, the backend version showed the initial results produced by the computer system that manages elections, said Jake Rapp, commission chairman. The official results released by the commission contained no mention of the Jayhawkers candidates, who had been disqualified days before the election for a rules violation.
"I want to see that the people who were elected overwhelmingly by the students get into office," Oatman said.
The Election Commission disqualified the Jayhawkers on complaints filed by rival coalitions that Jayhawkers candidates spent $300 on food from Chipotle at an event to help sway potential voters and then failed to report the expense to the commission.
The alleged incident violated new election rules passed by the Senate last fall meant to curtail and regulate spending by coalitions, which are formed when students pool resources to campaign on a common platform.
The Jayhawkers appealed the commission's decision, arguing the event was a meeting for party leadership, not undecided voters. The appeal eventually went to the University Judicial Board, which upheld the commission's decision to disqualify the Jayhawkers.
In a statement this week, the Jayhawkers described the commission's decision to disqualify them as "directly contrary to basic democracy," and as placing "rigid formality higher than giving real meaning to the students' right to vote." It also said the Jayhawkers would seek "all avenues of redress" on the results.
A new complaint filed this week by KU student Eli Hymson, who didn't participate in elections, calls the official results invalid and asks the Student Senate Court of Appeals to overturn the official election results and instate the Jayhawkers who won the vote in their races.
Members of the Elections Commission say they were just doing their job. "We're charged and given the authority to enforce and uphold the election rules," Rapp said. "A violation of one of those rules resulted in the disqualification of one of the coalitions."