Student government presidential elections spark controversy

ASMSU, MSU’s undergraduate student government, will be holding its presidential elections this Thursday, despite allegations of current chief of staff Kiran Samra violating the student government’s election code by running for the position.

Samra, a marketing senior, was found to be involved with the University Elections Commission, a group within ASMSU that oversees the election process, when she decided to run for president.

Samra served as the commission’s chair until she resigned on Jan. 15, according to official documentation from the commission.

Members of the University Elections Commission are not allowed to run for elections, said Christopher Baldwin, vice chair of the finance committee and College of Engineering representative.

Baldwin brought it to ASMSU’s attention on Jan. 31 that Samra’s position within the elections commission allegedly gave her access to applications made available to the public eight days before her resignation.

Baldwin, a mechanical engineering senior, said his main concern was to avoid any advantages that Samra may have had because of her position as chair of the commission.

After the commission held a meeting on Sunday to investigate the alleged violation, Samra was declared eligible to run.

Baldwin said he appealed the decision because he thinks they are still biased in favor of Samra.

“(The commission) ruled that the (election) cycle begins ten days before the actual election date, which is quite in the middle of the process,” Baldwin said.

The committee decided that the language of the code defining the “election cycle” is “ambiguous and therefore can be interpreted in many ways.”

Samra did not respond to requests for comment.

“When they do things to influence elections it’s really taking away the voice from each of the students’ representatives,” Baldwin said, adding that there has been a lot of cause for suspicion and a long history of internal rule-breaking at ASMSU.

Baldwin said current interim president Michael Mozina had allegedly said that he encouraged Samra to run and would do anything to stop candidate Christopher McClain from winning the election.

Mozina denied the allegation.

“I think that everybody has the fair right to run,” Mozina said. “That’s the nature of democracy.”

Mozina also said he supported whatever ruling that the University Elections Commission decided.

“We’re trying our best to make sure we are following the proper protocol,” he said.

The commission is scheduled to meet on Thursday before the election to review their ruling, Baldwin said.

Elections are still scheduled to take place on Thursday, unless the general assembly passes a motion to table them, which is unlikely, Mozina said.

Even if there is another appeal to the commission’s ruling on Thursday, the election can still take place, Mozina said.

If Samra is found in violation and wins, the candidate with the second-highest amount of votes will then become president.

“Hopefully we can break this cycle where we’re just constantly breaking rules,” Baldwin said. “It’s not good for us as a whole.”

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