SGA Elections Board Docks Candidates’ Votes

After six grievances were filed against Student Government Association presidential candidates Max Gocala and his running mate Paige Rassega, as well as Michael Slavens and his running mate Jacob Schriner-Briggs, the SGA Elections Board decided to dock both tickets a percentage of their vote totals for infractions of SGA election rules.

The Slavens ticket — which won the election — was docked 5 percent for one grievance. They received 555 of the total vote, which was reduced to 527 votes.

The Gocala ticket was docked 5 percent for one grievance and 3 percent for another. They received 501 of the total vote, which was reduced to 461 votes.

Of the five grievances filed against Gocala’s ticket, three were thrown out by the Elections Board.

According to a grievance resolution report provided by the elections board, Gocala’s ticket received a three percent reduction for a grievance concerning posting of campaign material in off-limits areas “inside Williamson Hall, Cushwa Hall and the M-2 parking deck.”

They were also fined 5 percent for “an e-mail sent by the respondent through a YSU Peer Mentor account encouraging students to vote on April 1 and 2 with a hint that the respondent’s name would appear on the ballot.”

The Board decided this was an “unauthorized solicitation.”

The Use of University Computing Resources Policies, a published university policy, prohibits all individuals from using university resources for “unauthorized solicitation,” according to the grievance resolution report.

The Slavens ticket only received one grievance, for which they received a 5 percent reduction, concerning “actively soliciting votes inside Lyden House.” This is also considered a violation of the 2013-2014 Housing and Residence Life Resident Handbook, which forbids solicitations in the residence hall.

“The Board also determined that because there was a
violation of a published university policy, but indeterminate impact on the outcome of the election, a minor penalty should be assigned,” the grievance resolution report said.

Deliberations concerning the grievances also delayed the announcement of the winner until April 7, although polls closed at midnight on April 2.

During these discussions, Michael Hrishenko, commissioner of the SGA Elections Board, announced his resignation. He declined to comment on this resignation because he felt too close to the situation to discuss it in an unbiased manner.

Gocala said this is not the first time the Elections Board removed a percentage of candidates’ votes. When Cory Okular ran for SGA president, the Board voted to remove 10 percent of his votes.

SGA adviser Chet Cooper, prior to receiving confirmation of any of the Board’s decision, said he had advised the board to consider alternatives.

“As an SGA adviser, I advised them to think of all their options,” Cooper said. “I know it was being bounced around, and that is when I said, ‘I think you need to think about this.’”

According to the SGA’s by-laws, the Elections Board is chosen by SGA’s advisors, the president, and two other students appointed by the advisers to enforce election rules.

“The Elections Board has the power to enforce all election rules established by the Student Government Association and to impose sanctions on those candidates who violate the rules and the rulings of the Elections Board,” according to the by-laws.

Slavens said the list of rules for campaigning are available online.

“You had to sign a paper, that listed the rules, saying that you read them and understood them. And actually when you turn the signatures in, you had to have another paper signed that said you have read the by-laws and you understood them,” Slavens said.

After the election, Gocala said he thought the entire process was tiresome for both candidates.

“There were a lot of headaches that were caused for everyone involved,” Gocala said. “The amount of drama that occurred, in a small period of time, was too much for either party. I say that in full confidence knowing that both parties were fed up with the drama, so I am glad that the drama is over. And I do wish them all the luck as they start their term. ”

Slavens echoed Gocala’s thoughts and added he thought the rules should be slightly revised for clarity.

“Jake and I tried to stay out of it as much as possible. … Obviously, if rules are broken, something should be done about it. I don’t like drama, so it got a little bit dramatic for my taste,” Slavens said. “I think part of the problem is that the rules are too broad. … There is talk about getting the rules more clearly defined. It does help out the candidates. It does help out the Election Board.”