Breakdown of past UB Student Association election scandals
Organization has had a history of election controversies
In the past, the Student Association has made headlines for controversies including resignations and allegations that range from fraudulent spending to harassment.
Some of the scandals lie within the SA’s election processes. The recent Senate Chair election controversy is nothing out of the ordinary for SA.
Here is a breakdown of recent SA election scandals.
Senate candidate claims election was unfair
In October 2013, Elad Eliahu lost a Senate seat by 33 votes and said the election was “a failure” on SA’s part.
Eliahu ran independently for one of the six on-campus senator positions and lost to six HOUSE (Honoring Our Undergrad Student Expenses) Party candidates. Eliahu claimed the party harassed him in the Student Union while he campaigned and also said a HOUSE party member walked a student into the voting room, which is a violation of election regulations.
In total, he filed about 10 complaints to Student Wide Judiciary (SWJ), which then penalized the HOUSE party by taking away an hour off of election floor time.
Eliahu said if SWJ penalized the HOUSE party sooner, it would have led to different results in the election. He said SWJ wasn’t “competent” and they “didn’t do their jobs.”
SA president accused of unethically swaying voters
SA Treasurer Justin Neuwirt accused SA President Travis Nemmer of leaking debate questions to candidates, having someone secretly record finance meetings and giving the recording to SA clubs to sway votes in the 2013 SA general election.
Neuwirt said all of the members of the Elections and Credentials (E&C) committee had ties to Nick Johns, the Spirit presidential candidate who went on to win. Nemmer said this was false.
E&C Chair Raphew Fahm and E&C committee member Theresa Cervantes appointed Meghan McMonagle, who was involved in the $300,000 mobile app scandal as SA vice president the year before, to the committee.
Neuwirt also said Nemmer acted as a proxy and broke the tie for the People of Color Council’s ticket endorsement to chose Johns. He also said Nemmer often proxied for Senate, which Neuwirst said was unethical.
Johns resigned as SA president less than one month into the 2013-14 school year.
SA treasurer candidate claims he was treated unfairly during election
SA independent treasurer candidate Ali Ahmed said he was treated unfairly throughout the 2014 general election process. Ahmed lost to Sade Cadle. He said various SA members “hindered his ability to effectively campaign” and the SA election system “is a popularity contest.”
Ahmed received 155 votes while his opponents Cadle and Juan Jimenez received 1,021 and 965 respectively.
Before the election, then-SA President Sam McMahon sent an email to all SA e-boards with the two party’s platforms. Ahmed wasn’t listed as a candidate and his platform was not addressed.
Ahmed said former Assembly Speaker Melissa Kathan invited him to speak about his platform at an Assembly meeting last minute. Kathan said she was unaware Ahmed was a candidate until James Ingram, who would go on to win the presidential race, told her Ahmed was not on the list.
Ahmed also said the election was invalid because it took place seven weeks before the end of the semester when the SA Constitution states “elections of officers shall take place no earlier than six weeks before the last day of classes.”
Ahmed said he probably would have still lost if he was treated fairly, but it’s “the principle behind the injustice and potential future injustice toward students who choose to run independently.”
UB Council student representative accused of inserting himself into candidate’s campaign
Although it wasn’t an SA election, the controversial and overturned 2014 UB Council student representative election involved several SA members including future SA President Minahil Khan.
UB Council Student Representative Daniel Ovadia was accused of “overstepping his boundaries” and inappropriately inserting himself into candidate Khan’s campaign for student representative.
Khan is the current SA president mired in the Senate Chair election controversy.
SA hiring committee member Rory Miller provided The Spectrum with screenshots from a private Facebook group where Ovadia asked group members to change their cover photos to Khan’s “Minahil Khan for UB Council” banner. Many members changed their cover photos.
Miller said it was essentially an endorsement.
After investigating complaints, the University Council Elections Committee voided Khan’s victory. Khan won again in a new election.