Senate candidate claims election was unfair, seeks justice
Published: Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 00:10
Elad Eliahu believes the Student Association cheated him.
Last week, Eliahu ran independently for one of the six on-campus senator positions; 593 students voted. He lost by 33 votes to the six HOUSE (Honoring Our Undergrad Student Expenses) Party candidates. Eliahu believes the election was an institutional failure on SA’s part.
Eliahu alleges the HOUSE Party harassed him on the election floor in the Student Union while he was speaking with students. He said the members of the party would surround him and tell the students not to vote for him. He also said one member walked a student into the voting room, a violation of election regulations.
He said the opposing party slandered his name by telling potential voters he “hated SA” and was not involved in clubs. He accused the party of libel in a Facebook post that said the same thing on the party’s page. The post has since been deleted, he said.
After Eliahu filed a complaint early last week, the Student-Wide Judiciary (SWJ) penalized the HOUSE Party with an hour off of the election floor, he said. SWJ sanctioned the penalty on Thursday with only 40 minutes remaining in the election, according to Eliahu.
SWJ Chief Justice Christian Zyla did not respond to The Spectrum for comment by the time of press.
Eliahu believes if SWJ had penalized the HOUSE Party earlier during the election, he would have had more time to speak with student voters – a task he said was difficult when six members of the opposing party were on the floor. He said SWJ wasn’t “competent” and didn’t “do their jobs at all.”
Eliahu filed approximately 10 complaints to SWJ, and he is unsure of which accusation it penalized the HOUSE Party for.
Chad Hladki, the former election and credentials chair who held that position last week during the Senate election, said SWJ didn’t do its job. He said both parties filed about 10 complaints each, and he thinks the results of the election might have been different if SWJ had responded to all of the parties’ complaints.
Hladki added, however, the HOUSE Party’s allegations against Eliahu weren’t sanctioned either – except for a 20-minute penalty because Eliahu had given a speech in the beginning of one of his classes, a violation of the election rules. Hladki said it was a “legal election” because SWJ didn’t respond to all of Eliahu’s complaints or all of the HOUSE Party’s complaints. He said the outcome was “a totally valid result.”
Hladki believes Eliahu’s problem with the election results doesn’t have anything to do with the election process; he thinks it has to do with the position Eliahu put himself in by running independently.
“The biggest thing [Eliahu] was upset about is the fact that it was one [versus] six,” Hladki said. “There is nothing illegal about that. He applied as an independent candidate and that is not anyone’s fault. And he ran a great campaign, even though he was alone.
“His interpretation of unfair treatment and poor campaign practice is just because of the fact that, inherently, six versus one is not easy. If you don’t have your own team of six to back up the six that are trying to make you look bad, what else is there to say? It is literally a fight.”
The elections and credentials chair is the “middleman” between those running for office in SA and SWJ, Hladki said. His job was to make sure candidates abided by SA regulations. Candidates file complaint sheets to the chair, who directly reports the issues to SWJ. The chair doesn’t have the authority to penalize those running – only SWJ does.
Hladki stepped down from his position on Friday, the day after the election. He said his resignation is unrelated to the events that surrounded the Senate election. He said the position was affecting him emotionally and academically and that he wouldn’t have been able to dedicate proper time to next week’s SA presidential election.
Hladki worries SWJ’s failure during the Senate election impacted the perception of his job.
“I did my job right,” Hladki said. “It just so happens that it doesn’t seem that way because SWJ, the second half of the justice system, didn’t uphold their end. So it seems like I did nothing.”
Eliahu said he spoke with Interim President Lyle Selsky, SA professional staff, SA’s lawyer and Hladki about the handling of the election. He is disappointed that SA didn’t do more to help him, and he alleges SA officials unfairly influenced the election, which prevented him from winning a Senate spot.
In response to Eliahu’s accusation, Selsky said: “The election is legal and valid. Any issues Elad brought up are being looked at to avoid any future confusion.”
Eliahu said if the HOUSE Party had been kicked off of the election floor for the full hour on the last day of the election, he could have won a Senate spot.
Hladki said, however, he spoke with the board of elections, which said that, at most, 15 students voted in the final hour – 19 fewer than Eliahu needed to win.
Eliahu said he will continue to seek justice for the mistakes SA has made. He is in contact with Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Barbara Ricotta’s office to see what further action he can take.