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The GW Hatchet

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JEC to keep all members

Three student leaders agreed this week not to grant a Joint Election Committee request to remove one of its members for alleged favoritism.

Four members of the JEC, a five-person body that oversees the March 2 and 3 SA elections, called last week for the removal of graduate student Christopher Jenkins. The members accused him of favoring members of the Coalition for Reform slate started by presidential candidate Ben Traverse and executive vice presidential candidate Morgan Corr.

Sophomore Justin Neidig, who heads up the JEC, sent the letter to the Election Coordinating Committee, a three-member group comprised of SA President Omar Woodard, Marvin Center Governing Board Chair Chrissy Trotta and Program Board Chair Eric Wiegand.

On Tuesday night, the committee unanimously decided that there was not enough evidence to warrant Jenkins’s dismissal, Woodard said. It did not formally reject the request.

“There will be no removal taking place,” Woodard said.

Trotta said she has seen no evidence of impartiality by any member of the JEC.

“I have not seen any substantial evidence showing bias for or against any candidate by a JEC member,” Trotta said.

Trotta added that the Election Overseeing Committee will be under “constant deliberations to ensure the JEC is doing they best job they can.”

According to the note written by the four JEC members, Jenkins has “severely hampered and, at times, directly opposed and violated our duty to provide ‘fair, unbiased and efficient’ elections.”

Jenkins said he is “disappointed” by the allegations that he is favoring certain candidates and that his removal is unwarranted.

“I find it interesting that others would presume to know my biases before I do myself,” Jenkins said. “I admit to having a different philosophy regarding elections than my colleagues overall, but I apply that philosophy fairly and consistently.”

The controversy about Jenkins’s role on the JEC centers on violations leveled against Traverse and Corr. Last week, Jenkins was the only JEC member to vote against the infractions, which stemmed from the coalition campaigning before the permitted period. Jenkins also submitted a dissenting opinion disagreeing with the JEC’s decisions.

The four members’ letter also states that Jenkins unethically consulted with members of the Coalition for Reform on the pending violations and urged the group’s counsel, Jason Karasik (Graduate At-Large), to appeal the decision to the SA Student Court.

Traverse and Corr said the committee is biased against their slate and sought to have their infractions overturned at the Student Court Wednesday night.

Corr was also charged with another violation this week, leaving him two away from being barred from next month’s elections. The sole EVP candidate said he is optimistic that his pending infraction is unfounded and is hopeful that the rest will be overturned. The court is expected to rule on the new violation and appeals by Saturday.

“The most recent violation is arbitrary and capricious,” Corr said. “I am sure that I will easily beat it if the committee acts fairly.”

The charge against Corr alleges that he was campaigning for Traverse before the campaign period began, an act he denied at a JEC hearing last week. Carrie Warrick, vice president of public affairs for Woodard, brought the new charge against Corr earlier this week.

The candidate’s four standing violations deal with campaigning before the permitted period and not submitting distributed campaign material to the JEC.

Corr and his presidential running mate allege that Neidig unfairly targeted members of the slate for personal biases. One issue deals with material posted on before the campaign period, an act that earned them several violations. Corr and Traverse argued, however, that the material was in violation of “rules that didn’t even exist at the time of the trial.”

The coalition claims that the rule against posting material on the social networking site had not yet been enacted when the hearing for the violations took place. Traverse and Corr argued against the violations in front of an SA court Wednesday night.

“The fact that there was selective prosecution against members of my slate, and the obvious bias of the JEC against me, we are appealing this to the Student Court, which we hope can act in a more fair and unbiased matter,” Traverse said.

The Senate has called a special meeting Friday night to discuss amendments the JEC made to the 2005 charter.

The meeting was called after five senators, all affiliated with the Coalition for Reform, signed a petition to discuss new JEC rules defining online campaigning and the existence of slates.

Woodard, who emphasized that he is remaining neutral in the election, said Traverse and other members of the Coalition for Reform’s decision to call the meeting is a “gross abuse of power and highly unethical.”

“The Senate does have the ability to oversee the rules the JEC makes but for these Senators to initiate it is unethical,” Woodard said.

Traverse, who believes he is being targeted by the JEC, said he did not call for the meeting as a direct result of the violations.

“This is about every candidate running in this year’s election,” said Traverse, who said he will recuse himself from Friday’s meeting.

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