Weinberg '11 wins; USG nixes revote
Senior elections manager Braeden Kepner-Kraus ’10 declined to release the vote count, explaining that only vote tallies of presidential races are traditionally released. He declared his resignation immediately after Tuesday’s executive session ended.
“I decided to resign as soon as this election cycle was over,” he explained in a later interview. “I am done with dealing with the elections.”
“All of us appreciated all the work, effort and time that Braeden has sacrificed in this election. He has had to deal with more than any elections manager has had to deal with in recent memory,” current USG vice president Mike Wang ’10 said in an interview.
Kepner-Kraus decided Monday evening that a re-vote was necessary in light of misleading statements contained in USG president Josh Weinstein ’09’s Friday e-mail endorsing Weinberg. Kepner-Kraus had met with Weinberg and the other vice presidential candidate, Nick DiBerardino ’11, before making his decision. Though Weinberg did not want a re-vote, Kepner-Kraus said, both candidates deferred to him.
Weinstein’s endorsement e-mail alleged that USG president-elect Connor Diemand-Yauman ’10 was endorsing Weinberg privately and had asked him to run on a ticket with him until Diemand-Yauman realized he was running unopposed. Diemand-Yauman maintains this statement is false.
Though Weinstein sent a clarification e-mail Sunday morning, the USG Senate decided in a closed session Sunday night that further clarification and retraction was needed and that Kepner-Kraus would decide the appropriate course of action given the potential effects of these statements on the election.
Wang said that the Senate voted on three issues Tuesday night: to overturn the decision for a re-vote, to maintain the validity of the clarification e-mails sent from Kepner-Kraus on Monday retracting and clarifying Weinstein’s misleading statements, and to release the vice-presidential election results.
A two-thirds majority passed all three measures.
“There were some [who wanted a re-vote], but the overwhelming sentiment was that [upholding the original election results] was the most appropriate thing to do,” Wang explained. “This decision was supported by both candidates.”
Those who attended Tuesday’s executive session said the re-vote was cancelled after discussion of two issues.
The first was that the Senate had authorized Kepner-Kraus to call for the re-vote during an appeals process that was tainted by rules violations. USG election rules state that individuals involved in a contested election “shall not vote during the appeals process for that position, and must also leave the room during executive session” and cannot motion to begin the appeals process. DiBerardino, a Class of 2011 senator, though, motioned to vote on whether the senior elections manager could call a re-vote and was present during executive session.
Wang said that this “technicality was not further disputed in the Senate meeting, and instead the Senate focused on the election manager’s decision to have a re-vote.”
Though Kepner-Kraus said he believed a re-vote could be called without publicizing the results of the original vote, some members of the Senate said they thought this was in violation of the USG constitution.
“The interpretation of some members of the Senate was that the constitution would not allow me to withhold the results of the first election, since someone must challenge the ‘result’ of the election in order for a re-vote to be called,” Kepner-Kraus explained in an e-mail.
This was the decisive issue, Wang said. “The reason why the re-vote decision was considered invalid by some members of the Senate was that prior to a re-vote being instituted, the original election results must be revealed,” he explained.
Kepner-Kraus said that he disagreed with the view that the first election’s results would have to be made public.
“My interpretation is that if the result of the election is challenged not on the grounds of fraud, etc., but on the grounds that the voting environment gives an unfair advantage to one candidate, then the actual numerical results of the elections are not necessary to make that claim and thus can and should be withheld,” he said. “This would also serve to preserve a fair re-vote environment.”
DiBerardino said in an interview after the results were announced that he accepts the decision. “I would hope that [Weinberg] will serve the USG well in the coming year, and I wish him luck,” he said.
He added that he was not surprised that the re-vote was cancelled. “There had been a series of e-mails going out throughout the day already about questions about the legality of the re-vote,” he said.
Before he knew of the election results, Weinberg said that the decision not to have a re-vote would be a prudent one. “I think the student body will be happy,” he said. “I heard that students were mad about the e-mail barrage.”
Diemand-Yauman said in an e-mail, "I am so excited to take office and to begin working with Mike for the betterment of the Undergraduate experience. I know that we will make an excellent team."
Class of 2009 senator Bruce Halperin, who was one of the individuals who brought attention to the constitutional concern about making the original results public, said after the meeting that canceling the re-vote was necessary.
“I think there was a lot of confusion, and we wanted to make sure that the final result was loud and clear,” he said.
“If the outcome of the re-vote had been different [than the first vote], then there would have been a much greater controversy,” he added.
The issue of whether Tuesday morning voting could have been skewed by the announcement of the re-vote was discussed at the meeting, Class of 2011 senator George Tsivin said.
“The Senate was so adamant with being done with this issue. We can only make this as fair as we can make it,” he explained, adding that before DiBerardino and Weinberg left the meeting, they both agreed there should be no re-vote.
Before the Senate meeting went into executive session, Tsivin said he believes Weinstein may have seen the results of the vice presidential race before actively pushing for a meeting to cancel the re-vote at 4 p.m. But Kepner-Kraus responded that only votes from two class years had been tabulated at that time.
Wang said that an investigation into Tsivin’s claim is pending.
“I definitely had no prior knowledge of the results,” Weinstein said in an e-mail. “Furthermore, Braeden … agreed that George’s charge was unfair and unfounded because, at the time that I asked him to make the motion to cancel the revote, the results of the election were not ready to be viewed even by Braeden.”
Wang also reflected on the controversy that this election has stirred and said that there is a need for reform of election procedures.
“The crux of the problem in this election lies in the fact that there were ambiguities and gray areas that could unfairly taken advantage of, and it is of utmost importance that we address that,” he said.