By Meghan Brink, Cameron Cupp, Nate Depaul | April 20, 2021
Abdoullah Goudiaby assumed the role of President-Elect after the SA Elections Commission voted 3-0-2 to seat the runner-up of the 2021-2022 general election after a tension filled two-week investigation resulted in a retroactive disqualification of Bryan Ramsaran and Peter Moschovitis, the leading contenders of the election.
Goudiaby, along with his Vice President-Elect Mya Williams, originally lost the general election by a narrow margin of 40 votes to Ramsaran and Moschovitis.
In a public hearing on Thursday April 15 held via Zoom, the EC arrived at the formal decision to retroactively disqualify the pair from the election on the grounds of violations of SA bylaws which require candidates to adhere to all SA and university affiliated policies during the campaign period.
Specifically, Ramsaran and Moschovitis were found guilty of violations of the policies regarding underground Greek life involvement, harassment, and bribery based on evidence submitted to the EC.
In relation to confirming the validity of the evidence in the investigation, EC chairwoman Ana Quian said, “we visually inspected each piece of visual evidence and did not see any inconsistency or indication they had been tampered with.”
Ramsaran, in a statement to the ASP, strongly objected to the way in which the investigation was conducted, as well as how the vote was held.
“A 20 minute debate has overruled the will of 846 students and the hard work of these same 846 individuals,” said Ramsaran.
Goudiaby was more focused on the future, however.
“I am glad that the turbulent election season has concluded and that the Student Association, as well as our student body, can now move forward with planning for a great next school year,” said Goudiaby. “There’s a lot of work to be done and we need as much time as possible to put our best foot forward.”
In regards to the conduct of the investigation, Quian stated that the Commission currently has no specific guidelines in how to conduct such an investigation, and described it to the ASP as “unprecedented.” The vote by the EC to retroactively disqualify Ramsaran and Moschovitis was conducted via a vote held in executive session, while attendees at the public hearing were placed in a waiting room.
The chairwoman stated, “(In executive session) the Elections Commission holistically considered the visual evidence and accounts of events alleged in the interviews we conducted and decided that the only sanction at our disposal at that point and time proportional to these serious violations which in our view were supported by tangible evidence was retroactive disqualification.”
Quain said the vote was held in a private executive session to avoid the more “disorderly conduct that was seen at the hearing this past Thursday.”
The ASP was allowed exclusive access to a recording of the Zoom where the EC voted to give the position of President-elect to Goudiaby on Monday, a meeting that Quian stated she is working to make available to the student population.
In this meeting, the chairwoman stated there were two options available to the EC in deciding how to proceed.
“I see either seat Abdoullah and Mya or to have another election,” said Quian.
Members of the EC expressed concerns with whether there would be enough time remaining in the semester for a special election, which would place the responsibility of declaring a President and Vice President-Elect on the student body.
“We could seat someone by the 5th (of May)” said Quian. “It’s tight … this President would have six days to consult on the budget.”
Additionally, members of the EC, including Quian, were concerned with whether Ramsaran and Moschovitis would be able to participate in a Special Election.
“We would have to do something else to bar them from it,” said Quian. “I don't think that automatically comes from being retroactively disqualified from the general, that you’re not allowed to run in a special.”
Commissioner Alyssa Guiang was concerned about a possible replication of the tension between the Goudiaby and Ramsaran which took place in the first General Election.
“It’s our duty to do what’s best,” said Guiang. “It would make sense to do another election, so we can seat someone fair and square, but to be realistic, it's going to be a bloodbath again.”
When the chairwoman opened debate on the topic of whether to hold an election, it was brief, and many of her fellow EC commissioners expressed their leanings towards not holding another election.
“What’s to stop Bryan from running again and doing the same things again or just putting up one of his cronies or something to do to run his campaign for him practically, ” stated Vice Chairman Braedan Lynn. “Bryan cheated, Abdoullah did not, that's the summary of my position.”
The only guidelines available to the EC to help them come to a decision between whether to hold an election or to certify the results of the 2021-2022 General Election as it stood was available precedent from previous SA Supreme Court cases.
During the meeting, Quian showed the rest of the EC documents from these cases, briefly scrolling through them and stating a summary of their findings.
Members of the EC were quick to disregard any of this precedent as applicable to their situation. Quian responded to these statements by stating, “I think we should keep an open mind, because it’s not just about seating the person, it’s also about like making sure we’re doing the right thing.”
Commissioner Imari Roque said, “yeah I just feel like regardless of the precedent, I already know how I am voting.”
In a vote of 0-3-2, the EC decided to not hold a Special Election to decide the SA president and vice president for the 2021-2022 year.
Following that vote, a motion was brought to the table to vote on whether or not the Goudiaby ticket would be recognized as the winners.
Quian, who first shook her head and took a long, deep breath, announced the final vote of 3-0-2 to certify the new results of the 2021-2022 General Election.
There has yet to be an announcement to the student body declaring the certification of the results of the 2021-2022 General Election.
The ASP was informed of the EC’s conclusion via an anonymous tip from a member of the Student Association, where Quian announced the decision via the Student Association GroupMe chat.
Thomas Magana, SA Supreme Court Chief Justice, has told the ASP that Ramsaran has submitted a notice to appeal. Magana stated that the actual appeal from Ramsaran has not yet been received by the SC due to "some extenuating circumstances" that have caused a delay.