ASRCC election fraud causes re-vote

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By Tracey Lloyd & Anthony Guillen

By Tracey Lloyd & Anthony Guillen

In an ASRCC presidential election wrought with controversy, Dany Wilson and Eddie Sanchez defeated Lupita Torres and Pedro Salcedo in a race that came to special election re-vote.

The original election, held on April 27, 28 and 29, elected 17 new senators but was unable to produce a new student president and vice president because of several grievances filed to the student Supreme Court against some of the candidates involved. This voided the votes cast for the presidential candidacy.

A re-vote was held on May 6 that named Wilson and Sanchez the ASRCC president and vice president for the 2004-2005 academic year. The Wilson-Sanchez ticket won by the slim margin of 12 votes over Torres and Salcedo. Five-hundred and forty-four votes were cast in the special re-vote election.

President-elect Wilson said that all candidates fought the good fight and she was pleased with the voter turnout in the re-vote election.

“There were good people on both sides,” Wilson said. “It was a hard election. It was not an easy decision because more people were reached that before. We went to 50 classrooms and talked to lots of people. We ran a good clean campaign.”

Torres, however, feels differently.

“I felt cheated. It wasn’t a fair election,” Torres said. “There was a lot of bias against us.”

The student Supreme Court, who is the governing body that oversees student elections, decided not to tally the votes cast for the presidential candidates because of the grievances filed against the candidates, said student Supreme Court Chief justice Nishad Marath.

“We had some general problems in terms of the conduct of the candidates and procedures of the election,” Marathe said.

According to Marathe, the Supreme Court decided to conduct a special presidential election because of the number of campaign rules that the candidates violated. Campaign regulations not adhered to by the candidates included campaigning within a 50-foot buffer zone surrounding the voting booths, improper usage of posters and fliers, campaigning on the day of the election and ballot tampering by voting officials, Marathe said.

“This was certainly unexpected,” Marathe said of the election. “This is stuff that the Supreme Court hasn’t seen before. We need to address how elections will be run in the future.”

The “floating” ballot boxes used to ensure that voters from the Cosmetology program were able to cast their votes were tampered with by some student government officials, Marathe said.

“When counting ballots, we saw problems with the floating ballot boxes,” Marathe said. “There was a pattern with the ballots… they seemed to favor one candidate.”

The student Supreme Court is currently unable to furnish the names of the students who tampered with the ballot boxes, but will disclose more information in the future. Marathe said that disciplinary action was being levied against the students who tampered with the election by Bonavito Quinto-MacCallum, dean of Student Services.

Quinto-MacCallum could not be reached for comment before deadline.

Some Riverside Community College students were upset with the conduct of the candidates and the necessity of a re-vote.

“There was never an explanation (for the re-vote),” said full-time student Andrea Ganier. “It makes you wonder what’s going on. I was impressed with the candidates and when you hear that something bogus happened, it makes you wonder how sincere the candidates were.”

Full-time student Lisa Sanchez said that the re-vote was discouraging.

“This is an outrage,” Sanchez said. “I cannot believe that this would happen in a good community college like this. I am outraged and furious about this matter.”

RCC student Tacarra Davidson said she was bothered by the election.

“What kind of mess is that?” Davidson said. “And I’m thinking ‘will it change anything if I vote?’ That’s fine if they cheated. I just want to know if it will really change anything if I vote, or will it stay the way it is now?”

Voter turnout for the original election was the highest for a student government election in over a decade. There were a total of 834 votes cast.

“It has been a great thing because the candidates have actually gone out and actually talked to students,” said ASRCC faculty adviser Doug Graham. “We’ve always wanted that one-on-one communication. We’re very proud of (the candidates) as far as the number of people that they influenced or got to vote and we hope that the same thing happens again.”

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