CUSG election tribunal releases infraction decisions, disqualifying Empower

Chalk decorations in front of the UMC encouraging students to vote in the CUSG election. Apr. 9, 2018. (Fiona Matson/CU Independent)

The Empower ticket was disqualified Friday with 30 election infraction points, according to the CUSG election commission’s findings. 

Of the eight infractions that were argued at the infraction tribunal hearing Wednesday, all three that were unanimously found responsible by the election commission were against the Empower ticket and their candidates. 

“We made the decisions based on what was obvious to us and what evidence was presented,” said Alexa Donner, head election commissioner.

Infraction points are given to several different categories of election wrongdoing. A ticket is disqualified if they receive 10 or more points. The two Empower candidates who won representative-at-large seats, Dawn Bulbula and Riley Day, will not be seated if the results are certified.

Candidates have until Monday to submit an appeal. At that point, if no appeals are submitted, the election results will be certified. With this year’s infraction findings impacting the preliminary election results, Donner said that it’s likely an appeal will be filed, which could extend the timeline further, potentially past commencement. 

An appeal from Empower will only affect their complaints, though, not the other complaints. That means it’s very likely that Ignite will retain the tri-executive placement, but it’s unclear who will be in the representative seats at the end of the process.

Concerns of potential administration intervention have shadowed this year’s election. With the chancellor’s decision to cut the CUSG budget a couple weeks ago and the 2016 spring election controversy, some feared the chancellor would intervene again. Election commission members said that any intervention would be “an overreach.”

“Because of where we are with the chancellor and the student government, this has been a really important election,” Donner said. Voter turnout was much higher than usual this year, with 6,930 student voting.

The first of the three convicted infractions involved a student voter, Aaron Kessler, who claimed that an Empower volunteer who was tabling during the election harassed him into voting. He finally voted “to get it over with,” as he said at Wednesday’s hearing.

“I didn’t want to have any part of this,” Kessler said at the tribunal.

The commission’s findings said that Empower “worked to disassociate themselves from the volunteer” who had called Kessler “derogatory names” and harassed him. Ryley Day, Empower’s representative defendant at the hearing and candidate for rep-at-large, had been at Empower’s table for the incident. She apologized to Kessler and clarified that since the volunteer was a mutual friend of hers and Kessler’s, she didn’t feel it was a big deal.

“I would never intentionally do anything to make someone feel uncomfortable,” Day said.

Since the volunteer was not on the ticket, they were not implicated personally in the complaint, which was instead applied towards the Empower ticket as a whole. “Intimidating voters” is part of the Class A violations of the election code, which are worth 10 points and automatic disqualification.

The second infraction, which was specifically against Day, also related to Kessler’s case. Questions from the tribunal at Wednesday’s hearing revealed that when Day helped Kessler vote, Kessler selected the Empower option, but nothing else in the form, including the “submit” button at the end. Day denied having pressed the “submit” button. According to the commission, this meant that Kessler “did not have full control over his vote.” Kessler himself admitted at the hearing that he “probably wouldn’t have” voted for Empower if he voted on his own terms.

Submitting someone else’s ballot is also a disqualifiable violation. This means that candidates and volunteers at a campaign table can help a student navigate to the election page, but nothing else.

The third infraction involved Dawn Bulbula, a candidate for rep-at-large and the current Freshman Council vice president. The Bold ticket, represented by rep-at-large candidate O’Ryan Gloer, said they had heard numerous reports of other tickets submitting or aiding voting. Their only witness, Beka Admasu, turned out to be a friend of Bulbula’s.

Confusion surrounded who Admasu intended to vote for. In the hearing, he clarified that he was under the impression that Bulbula was on the Bold ticket. When it came time to vote, Admasu said he signed into the form and consented to let Bulbula check the boxes that he thought would be for Bulbula and Bold. Bulbula handed his phone back for him to click submit. Only later did Admasu realize, by looking back on the form, that his votes went towards Empower instead of Bold.

“I thought they were all in the same group and got confused,” Admasu said at the hearing.

The commission found that, while Admasu had given Bulbula consent to vote, it was still classified as “modifying any ballot other than one’s own,” another Class A, disqualifiable violation.

The Ignite ticket also received two infraction points for submitting their expense report late. They pleaded responsible for the complaint at the hearing, so it was not argued or in need of a commission vote.

Contact CU Independent Multimedia News Editor Lucy Haggard at lucy.haggard@colorado.edu.

Lucy Haggard

Lucy Haggard is in her third year at CU Boulder, born and raised in Colorado. She was the Editor-In-Chief during Fall 2018, working primarily on coverage of Title IX at CU. She helps the CUI cover campus and the local community in the most aesthetically and audibly pleasing ways possible. When not on assignment, she's probably dancing way too early in the morning.

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