Edem Dzodzomenyo / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Varun Devatha '19, S.A. president candidate currently appealing the S.A. election committee's decision, at the March 21 S.A. presidential debate.

March 30, 2018

S.A. Elections Results Delayed as Presidential Candidate Appeals Disqualification

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The Student Assembly elections results are delayed until the S.A. elections committee decides whether to uphold the disqualification of S.A. presidential candidate Varun Devatha ’19.

Before the election results are released, the elections committee must resolve all appeals filed by candidates disqualified from the race for violating election rules, as stated in the S.A. election rules. Devatha, disqualified in a Wednesday ruling by the elections committee, is the only candidate still in the appeals process, according to a S.A. member with knowledge of the situation.

“Election committee is following the rules as written, and we are doing the best to get the results as early as I can,” Travis Cabbell ’18, chair of the elections committee, said.

S.A. President Jung Won Kim ’18 said that the election results for all candidates will be released during or after the spring break following the resolution of all appeals.

Dale Barbaria ’19 will, by default, be the S.A.’s president-elect for the next academic year, if the elections committee does not reverse its decision to disqualify Devatha, the only other contender for the office. It is unclear which candidate secured the plurality of the votes, as vote tallies are not revealed to anyone, including the election committee, until the entire appeals process is over.

The elections committee on Wednesday disqualified Devatha for the second time this campaign season for using Cornell’s logo in one of his campaign graphics, according to a source with knowledge of both Devatha and Barbaria’s campaign, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, like others interviewed for this article, because unauthorized disclosure of ongoing committee proceedings is punishable by the judicial administrator.

“Towards the end of the campaign, apparently Varun … put up campaign material that has Cornell’s logo on it. That’s not permitted in any campaign materials because Cornell’s logo is not to be used in any political campaigns,” the source said.

Devatha’s campaign was previously disqualified on March 16, after his campaign’s social media account accidentally started contacting potential voters before the official start of campaign season; however, the campaign was reinstated three days later, according to election committee documents related to Devatha’s case.

Barbaria acknowledged that the S.A. is at least partially responsible for making “the mistake of setting up an absurd process” that disqualified his rival.

“All assemblymen who sat on the assembly last semester voted on the election rules as they were written and chose the members of that elections committee,” Barbaria said.“The assembly … have the responsibility next semester, or this semester to fix it.”

Barbaria, who secured endorsements from The Sun, First Generation Student Union, Cornell Democrats and five other organizations, promised to bring greater transparency to the S.A. and raise student awareness of campus issues.

In addition to his experience as the vice president of internal operations, Barbaria also served as the parliamentarian, vice president for internal operations and member of the University Assembly codes and judicial committee.

Endorsed by the International Student Union, Cornell Union for Disability Awareness, Cornell Mainland Chinese Student Association and five other organizations, Devatha promised free Netflix, improved campus safety and a more transparent S.A. if elected during the presidential candidate debate.

Prior to serving as executive vice president, Devatha served as undesignated representative at-large on the S.A. in the 2016-17 academic year and as freshmen representative in the year before that.