The Student Government Association election commission has disqualified four students — including the president-elect and vice president-elect — on the basis of election fraud for using students’ personal information to cast votes without their consent during the general elections.
Numerous witnesses told the election commission Natural Sciences and Mathematics senators-elect Brandon Balwant and Laxmi Ramana, members of the McHugh-Aijaz party, approached students with a “petition” to change faucets in the M.D. Anderson Library that required the students’ first and last names, PeopleSoft numbers, birthdays, classifications and the college they were enrolled in — all information that was required to vote in the election, said Arsalan Razakazi, chief election commissioner.
Michael McHugh, who was elected president in the run-off elections, and his running mate Mohammed Aijaz were also disqualified because of the fraud. His party — McHugh-Aijaz — was the main beneficiary from the fraudulent voting, Razakazi said.
“Candidates who are members of a Party are held individually accountable to the provisions of this code, although parties as a whole may be held accountable to the provisions of this code,” says article III, section three, clause four of the SGA elections code as quoted in the election commission’s decision.
Two other sections from the code that are quoted in the decision say that candidates found guilty of election fraud can be disqualified and candidates that don’t meet requirements of the code can not win the election.
“We interviewed; we contacted each of the witnesses; we tried to make conferences with them in our office. We do thank them for their time,” said Dre Perez, an assistant election commissioner. “It’s not easy for them to come over here…they have to study for exams; they have to write papers, so we just thank them for time and their diligence in helping us come to this decision.”
All four students have 24 hours to appeal the disqualification to SGA’s judiciary branch. If the appeal is accepted, they will go to trial, Razakazi said.
“We’ve done a lot of research…we’ve been working countless hours — we even worked over spring break. This decision wasn’t easy… it wasn’t something we took lightly,” said Said Jalajal, an assistant election commissioner. “Even though it’s tough, we’re sticking by this decision because we believe its fully right to those people who were done wrong.”
McHugh refused to comment.