North Texas Daily

Hale, Cole win SGA after violation hearings

Hale, Cole win SGA after violation hearings

April 28
02:49 2016

Lisa Dreher | Staff Writer


grant haleWEB

Grant Hale

The results are in. Political science junior Grant Hale will be the undergraduate student body president and integrative studies sophomore Barrett Cole will serve as vice president for the next school year.

Hale, SGA’s current chief of staff, won 1,712 votes, and his opponents, SGA College of Arts and Sciences senators Sam DeLeon and Owen Saenz, lost with 1,608 votes. There were 3,320 total votes, SGA said.

Results were suspended Friday because SGA’s election board needed to determine whether candidates and their teams discouraged students from voting for their opponents.

Voting closed  Thursday evening, and Election Commissioner Aaron Davis said SGA could not determine a winner until Friday’s hearings were complete.

barret coleWEB

Barrett Cole

“Each of the cases were dismissed based on the evidence that we had,” Davis said.

The board certified runoff results after the hearings and then waited another 24 hours to allow appeals to SGA’s Supreme Court to rule on the ordeal.

The first hearing addressed SGA Mayborn School of Journalism senator-elect Sierra Johnson’s complaint. She said DeLeon’s team cast votes for students.

Johnson said at about 11:40 a.m. on April 18 she witnessed students in the University Union logging in to OrgSync at DeLeon’s table where they could vote. She said the table’s worker then voted on behalf of students after they signed in, according to the election board report.

Shepherd said neither DeLeon nor Saenz were present when the member turned the computer around to vote for the student that had signed in. DeLeon’s team member Bianca Mujica sat with the computer while Abby King stood behind her, Johnson said.

Johnson was working Hale and Cole’s voting table in the University Union to the left of its main entrance facing the Library Mall. She saw members voting for students again after sighting the first incident. Cole and next year’s College of Arts and Sciences senator Fabiola Garcia were with Johnson at the table, according to the board’s report.

Johnson said College of Arts and Sciences senator-elect Kelly Phommachanh told her she knew a student whose vote was cast by DeLeon’s table workers.

The board ruled unanimously there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove a violation occurred. Davis said there were no testimonies by students whose votes were cast for them, so the case was dismissed.

The second hearing involved a complaint by DeLeon saying Hale’s campaign team tabled at the same time and location of UPC’s scheduled tabling event, forcing UPC to move from the Union to the Multicultural Center.

DeLeon said the members also tabled on the Union’s second floor without permission, and used a Union employee’s report of these events to file the case against Hale and Cole.

DeLeon added that it was reported Honors College senator Isaac Warriner and College of Arts and Sciences senator-elect Misaki Collins solicited votes for Hale on the Union’s staircases after Union staff told them not to. Parties must not “disrupt the normal activities of the university,” the board said as stated in SGA’s bylaws.

Austin Bourdeau, a Union employee in the board’s report, said on April 20 another Union employee told him around 1:30 p.m. that Hale’s table was not scheduled to be on the Union’s second floor at that time.

Bourdeau then told Warriner that people must have a permission slip to table there. Warriner later told Bourdeau that he packed  his table and left after realizing they could not campaign there. Bourdeau said the table was on the second floor for about 15 to 25 minutes.

Bourdeau said during this time he saw another table for Hale on the Union’s third floor at the time UPC had scheduled an event at that location for that same hour: 1 to 2 p.m. He called the Union’s scheduling office, where staff said they would handle the issue, Bourdeau said in the board’s report.

The board ruled unanimously these violations did not significantly impact the election’s results. The case was dismissed because the team left the prohibited area within a short amount of time. The board said it was not enough time to drastically change the outcome of the election.

“They hadn’t been there for an entire hour and so the board ruled that the short amount of time they were there wasn’t going to have a significant impact on the results of the election,” Davis said.

DeLeon filed the last complaint saying two students’ votes were cast by Hale’s campaign members without their consent and members did not allow students to change them. DeLeon said the incident occurred around 4 p.m. on April 21 in the Union.

DeLeon said D’Andre Coulter and Janata Montgomery told DeLeon that newly elected TAMS senator Rishi Talati changed Coulter’s vote from DeLeon to Hale. In the board’s report, the victims said Talati told them he could not participate in their voting but changed D’Andre’s vote when she reached the webpage and Talati saw she chose DeLeon.

The board ruled unanimously that there were conflicting testimonies from students, and so the case was dismissed. Talati argued he was only helping D’Andre move to the next webpage, Davis said.

With some physical evidence of photos and video, Davis said the board rules with its best judgment. Davis said he also contacted all parties to gather testimonies that are “hopefully unbiased.”

“It’s going to be the same as any sort of hearing,” Davis said. “The board has to take into consideration each side and try and discern from the facts that they’re presented what is more likely to have happened.”

If the board found violations were made, the results from the runoff could have been thrown out and a new runoff would ensue with new results. Sanctions could not be imposed on the candidates committing the violations because the hearings were made the day results were originally to be released, Davis said.

If a violation was serious enough, the offending candidate would be disqualified and the other would win the runoff, Davis said.

Hale and running mate Cole, currently an SGA College of Business senator, also defeated DeLeon in the general election 1,368 to 732 votes. Hale was not elected because he fell short of the required 50 percent student body

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