Student Government (AAS)

April 15, 2014

The Process:

During the 5/5 Senate meeting, Senator Tierney Werner ’16 questioned the validity of the presidential election results based on the unresolved 4/15 complaint. The complaint had to be answered because the 4/25 referendum voided the original JC decision on the 4/15 complaint. Therefore, the current JC had to make a ruling, because it is the responsibility of the JC to resolve all complaints. As a separate branch of the AAS, it is our duty to address open complaints. The Constitution states: “In the case of a formal complaint, the Judiciary Council shall have jurisdiction over any controversy arising under this Constitution or the general bylaws of the AAS (including elections)” (Article VII, Section 5, Clause 2).

As a result of the 4/25 referendum, the 4/15 JC ruling was voided. However, the evidence presented at the hearing still stands. Because the hearing for the original complaint already happened, the Constitution does not state that we need a new hearing. Therefore, we were able to rule on the unresolved complaint without a new public hearing, using original evidence from the initial hearing process.

There was no contradiction between this decision and the language of the 4/25 referendum. The 4/25 referendum stated that: “voiding the 4/15 decision will not disqualify or penalize any candidate.” The referendum did not incur any penalties or disqualifications directly; it simply brought the complaint back to the JC. Any penalties that follow would be a result of a new JC ruling, making it independent of the referendum. Additionally, due to the binding nature of referenda, the results of this referendum required the JC to reconvene and rule on the complaint. Our ruling is completely independent of the referendum. Therefore, there was no contradiction between the referendum language and our ruling.

Because the ruling was voided, the complaint was unresolved. On 5/7, the JC members met with the JC Chair to rule on the complaint. Members Johnathan Appel ’16 and Marie Lambert ’15 recused themselves by self-identification. Therefore, JC members Andrew Edelman ’15, Aleks Merkovich ’17, and Savannah West ’15 voted on the ruling (the JC Chair, Abigail Xu ’15 cannot vote unless there is a tie). The voting JC members found Amani Ahmed in violation of the AAS Constitution in a 3-0 vote.

The AAS Constitution clearly states: “After ruling, the Judiciary Council shall administer disciplinary action or recommend removal” (Article VII, Section 3, Clause 3). The voting members decided that the disciplinary action would be to hold a new election, as set by precedent in previous JC rulings. This is constitutional because the presidential election results were invalid. The JC found that Amani Ahmed was prematurely sworn in to office, because there was an unanswered complaint regarding the election. Since the complaint was unanswered, Amani Ahmed should not have been sworn into office. 

The process for determining the new election is in the hands of the Elections Committee.


5/7 JC Ruling on 4/15 Complaint:

The JC referenced Article X of the AAS Constitution regarding referenda. The definition of a referendum is “a general vote by the electorate on a single political question that has been referred to them for a direct decision” (Oxford Dictionaries). Referenda decisions are binding. Due to the binding nature of referenda, the JC had to rule on the 4/15 complaint because its prior decision was voided by the 4/25 referendum.

The voting members of the JC found the clarified definition of “total campaign expenditures” as defined by the 4/25 referendum to be synonymous with the definition of “total campaign expenditures” in the AAS Constitution prior to the referendum (Article V, Section 8, Clause 2). Andrew Edelman ’15, Aleks Merkovich ’17, and Savannah West ’15 all interpreted Article V, Section 8, Clause 2 to mean that any money spent by a candidate on their campaign over the specified limits would be in violation of the AAS Constitution.

JC hearings are only required for new complaints as specified in the AAS Constitution (Article VII, Section 5, Sub-heading 2, Clause 1). The JC did not need to hold a new public hearing on the open 4/15 complaint. The 4/25 referendum voided the previous JC decision which defined total campaign expenditures; it did not void the hearing process. The JC can use Amani Ahmed’s previous admission to the JC in its resolution of the 4/15 complaint. Amani Ahmed admitted to the previous JC that she did in fact spend over the total campaign expenditure limit. Thus, Andrew Edelman ’15, Aleks Merkovich ’17, and Savannah West ’15 voted 3-0 that Amani Ahmed did in fact overspend in violation of the spending rules outlined in the AAS Constitution.

According to the AAS Constitution, based on the ruling, the JC had to “administer disciplinary action or recommend removal” (Article V, Section 5, Sub-heading 3, Clause 3). Previous JCs ruled to hold new elections with all eligible students even when the AAS Constitution was not violated by a candidate, but the spirit of the election was questioned. Since Amani Ahmed violated the AAS Constitution and the spirit of the Presidential election was questioned, the JC followed precedent and voted 3-0 to hold a new election. Andrew Edelman ’15, Aleks Merkovich ’17, and Savannah West ’15 voted. (Article V)

The timeline for the new presidential election is to be determined by the Elections Committee. Any previous candidate, including Amani Ahmed, and other eligible students can run in the new election. The same constituency (Class of 2015, 2016, and 2017) will vote.