Associated Students Announce Special Election Results

Special election comes after original election was deemed invalid by Student Court; only two positions are contested this time

Photo+courtesy+of+the+Mt.+SAC+Associated+Students+website.

Photo courtesy of the Mt. SAC Associated Students website.

Update:

Mt. SAC Student Life announced the results of the special elections on June 1. The special elections resulted in placing Hugo Fulcheri as the Associated Students AS President, Laura Velasco the AS Vice President, Courtney Darcy and Erick Chavez the Inter Club Council Co-Chairs and Sophia Ruiz the Student Trustee. These are the same results as the original elections that were held earlier in April.

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After the April elections were found invalid, the Mt. SAC Associated Students will now have a special election until May 29. Mt. SAC Student Court made the ruling that deemed the original elections invalid after it was discovered that the Elections Committee had not been formed prior, which was in violation of the Associated Students Elections Directive. The Elections Committee consists of an adviser, a non-voting election senator who can vote in a tiebreaker, four Mt. SAC students and two Student Senate members.

With the campus closed, the April elections were held only online, and students will once again have the chance to vote for Associated Students through their Mt. SAC portal.

Student Court Chief Justice, Mohamad Almouazzen, 20, and who is a political science and communications major with a focus on pre-law, helped spearhead the ruling to invalidate the election, which now requires Associated Students candidates to run for office again. Almouazzen said that as far he knows, the ruling is unprecedented. “To my knowledge and having spoken to members of Associated Students as far back as 2015, it has not happened before,” he said.

Almouazzen said the decision was solely based on the fact that the Elections Directive, the governing document which binds the exact process as to how an election process is supposed to go, was not followed to the letter of the law.

“The Elections Committee is our body that is responsible for setting up the election, overseeing the election and then after its over to deal with any complaints,” Almouazzen said. “So if there’s any complaint about the election or between candidates or whatever, typically that would go to the Elections Committee, they will vote on it and deal with it all or they would forward it to Student Court.”

The responsibility of forming the committee belongs to Associated Students, Almouazzen added. However, he also said that as a governing body, from Student Court to Executive Board and to Senate, it was all of their responsibility, and they all suffered from miscommunication.

“Unfortunately with this election, due to miscommunication, it’s really nobody’s fault, miscommunication happens, the elections committee which is an integral part of the directive was not formed,” Almouazzen said. “The directive very clearly states that an elections committee must be formed.”

According to Almouazzen, approximately 300 plus students participated in this year’s April elections. For a campus that served over 30,000 students in fall 2019, those numbers show that only a small percentage of the student population actually participated in the online elections. Considering the low participation amongst students, members of Student Court could have let the election outcomes stand, especially since the numbers show that the general student population may have had little interest in the Associated Students election.

However, the complaint that initiated the invalidation of the election was a complaint Almouazzen presented himself. “It was myself saying to the Court we need to take the initiative,” he said.

“We are in a position where we can take advantage of the lack of student awareness and let these things slide, especially regarding this election process,” Almouazzen added. “[But] the idea is that if we want to convince or portray to students that Associated Students is a professional government organization that adheres to legitimate government protocol, like the Brown Act, or Robert’s Rules of Order and Parliamentary protocol, and we are elected and all that cool stuff, then we need to act that way.”

Almouazzen said that there was a possibility that Student Court would let the elections stand as is, but he did not want future student leaders to look back on the 2020 elections and think it would be okay to circumvent the governing documents. “There were calls for me to just let it go. ‘Like there’s no point’ and ‘it’s not really going to make a difference,’” Almouazzen said. “But I think that letting it go would have set a dangerous precedent.”

Shailah Arreola-Bittner, current Academic Senator for Associated Students, is running for the Student Trustee position, and she said that many problems could have been avoided during the original elections had there been an elections committee to ensure a clear set of rules was being followed. “There was an issue with copyright, there was a small misunderstanding between two candidates and then there was an issue in regards to individuals endorsing candidates,” Arreola-Bittner said.

“I think the fact that having [an elections committee] behind the scenes and having more people at the table when it came to making the decisions in regards to rules is super helpful especially when it comes to addressing the issues,” she added.

She said that the inability to discuss or check rules, especially with everything online for the first time, made it difficult and more stressful for everyone involved, and to not have a committee that would help resolve issues made the situation worse. “It’s better knowing that we have more chefs in the kitchen to help with the guidelines of how things should go,” she said.

Arreola-Bittner did not give a reason as to why the committee was not initially formed, saying, “If you ask anyone why it was not formed, everyone will probably give a different answer…I think it was difficult not being on campus and then the week off of school. There was just so much going on.”

“Our numbers have already been super low, and this time they are expected to be very low,” Arreola-Bittner said about the expected voting outcome. “It’s really easy now to vote, you just go to your portal.”

Almouazzen said that members of Associated Students understood he was just doing his job, despite the fact that the invalidation caused members of the group to have to run again.

“Especially with the president Hugo Fulcheri and the Student Trustee Elect Sophia Ruiz…when the decision first came out there was sort of like a tension, which is very understandable,” Almouazzen said. “But when we talked about it again, you know, the reason that these people are running for the positions that they are is because they are genuine people, they genuinely care about upholding the purpose and conditions of Associated Students.”

“So when we were able to talk it out and they were able to explain their perspective and I was able to explain my perspective, we really came to just a wonderfully, wonderfully amicable conclusion that this is the right thing to do,” Almouazzen added.

According to Almouazzen, there was an understanding that there was no malicious intent behind the ruling or any ulterior motive, and it was simply that the directives had to be upheld.

“It was such a wonderfully friendly compromise. We still Snapchat each other, we still talk,” he said. “I’m very grateful to be part of such an understanding group.”

The Elections Committee has now been formed, and election guidelines have been put in place. The special election only has two positions that are running contested, which are Student Trustee and Inter Club Council Co-Chair.

To vote, Mt. SAC students can visit their student portals and click on student records. Clicking on student records will bring up a personal information tab that includes a section titled general surveys.

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By clicking on general surveys, students will be directed to the voting platform.

general surveys

Voting for the special election is open from Tuesday, May 26 through Friday, May 29.