Elections Commission fails to maintain public record
Though the Elections Commission has issued at least two decisions and one warning, only one decision has been made public as required by the Student Government Elections Policy. This raises questions about whether the Commission is simply failing to carry out its own policies or if sanctions are being suppressed to benefit specific candidates.
At least one warning has been issued to a candidate. Grand marshal candidate Meagan Lettko ’20 had a campaign poster on the glass in the Jonsson-Rowland Science Center entranceway without contact information on both sides, in violation of the sign policy. After a student reported it to the Commission on Thursday, February 28, Chairperson Zachary Taylor ’21 told the student that the candidate was issued a warning for the violation. A warning is one of the possible outcomes of a sanction for violating elections policy.
However, no record of the EC’s official correspondence with Lettko has been made available publicly, and the text of the warning was not sent out to all candidates or made public as the elections policy requires. According to the Student Government Elections Policy, “All decisions, sanctions, and official correspondence with candidates are considered public record.”
Grand marshal candidate Joseph Lyon ’20, who is also the subject of Decisions 1 and 1.1, said, “I think it’s important that all candidates are held to the same standard. Additionally, sanctions and decisions can have an impact on the outcome of the election and affect the process. I would like to be assured that the Elections Commission is acting impartially in their decision-making and following the handbook.”
The Poly requested information from Taylor concerning all Elections Commission decisions, sanctions, and warnings on March 1. Follow-up emails were sent to the Commission on March 4 and 5. There has been no reply or communication from Taylor or the Commission to The Poly.
Decision 1.1 has not been posted in the Box folder linked to from the Elections website. The elections policy reads, “The text of any sanction, decision, or the result of a violation hearing will be made public on the Elections Commission public box, accessible through the Elections Website.” It was only shared through an email to all the current elections candidates, the grand marshal, and the president of the Union on February 26.
The policy does not set a timeline or deadline that the Commission must adhere to in making its decisions, sanctions, and official correspondence public.
The previous Elections Commission, of which Taylor was a member, was the subject of allegations of partiality, according to the Freed Maxick audit report issued as a result of violations of policy and questions of integrity during the GM Week 2018 elections. The report claims, “An allegation of campaign violations was submitted to the Election Commission on April 5, 2018. The impartiality of how the allegation was investigated and dismissed was questioned by the person who submitted the allegation as well as several other students and administration officials.”
Update (March 14): Decision 1.1 was put into the Box on March 10.
In an email to The Polytechnic, Taylor wrote, “The warning issued to Meagan Lettko on February 28th was a chairperson preliminary decision, as allowed by Article I, Section 10, Subsection 5. As the decision was not fully ratified or reversed (as not enough of the commission voted) within the 24 hours, as outlined by the same section, it was reversed. The Elections Commission decided that a warning was still warranted, and another vote to issue a warning passed, resulting in Warning 1.”
Warning 1 was put in the Box on the same day.
In Article 1, Section 10, Subsection 5, Item A, the elections policy states, “Any decision made in this way must be clearly labeled as a chair-made preliminary decision, and updated with the final outcome.” The chair-made preliminary decision is not publicly available.