Story by Kelly Tafoya
The Student Senate Executive Elections were a mystery up until the results announcement early on March 6.
On campus, to ensure a “free and fair” election, the Election Commission holds candidates accountable for complaints by implementing violations.
After receiving a total of 650 penalty points, Joseph Gale was disqualified from the vice president of student life race early Tuesday morning. The Election Commission began the proceedings for his appeal, which took place on Tuesday, March 5 at 10:15 p.m. in Olmsted.
“This appeal is a very pivotal moment the week of elections,” Gale said. “It more or less comes down to what they rule on this.”
Then at 11:10 p.m., Gale received word that he was back on the ballot, and could once again have a chance to be elected VP of student life.
Gale had three complaints filed against him during this election cycle, Election Commission Co-Chair Matthew Van Hoeck said.
“He (Gale) was campaigning through email and that was his first violation,” Van Hoeck explained. “The second one was negative campaigning. And then the last one was ruled as failing to promote a fair and accurate election.”
For Election Commission Co-Chairs Van Hoeck and Julianne Klampe, it has been a more difficult election cycle than usual.
“Last year there was definitely not as many points allocated to candidates but this cycle has also been more difficult because we’re dealing with bigger issues,” Van Hoeck said. “We’re seeing a lot more code of ethic violation complaints and less of the posting policy complaints and smaller issues like that.”
The appeals process for ethical violation ruling for Gale began Tuesday morning when he submitted a written appeal to the Election Commission for review.
“I didn’t feel the ruling was fair,” Gale said. “I had 24 hours to submit an appeal and then they (members of the Election Commission) re-read it and determine if the appeal is worthy of being looked at again. To prepare for this appeal I did a lot of research and really understood how things like this on a larger scale been dealt with.”
Gale said the ethical violation was over the “like” of a Facebook post by one of Gale’s fraternity brothers supporting his candidacy.
“The fact that I ‘liked’ it never meant for it to be an endorsement as the EC saw it by any means,” Gale said. “What I found through doing research is that Facebook in and of itself is very unconstructed and almost free of law at this point. In this sense when you look at it, me liking a status and then tying it to an endorsement is a leap of trying to associate the two.”
The Election Commission has dealt with appeals before.
“The last disqualification was the last general election when a Business Senator candidate was disqualified,” Van Hoeck said. “Appeals also have happened in the last few election cycles and basically give the EC a chance to review the contest of the ruling and see if any new evidence is discovered. The changing of a ruling really depends on the candidate, I just advise the EC members to review the bylaws and code of ethics and go in with an open mind. The Election Commission doesn’t ever like to see that (disqualifications and violations) happening.”
Van Hoeck understands how competitive elections can get, having run in general Student Senate Elections and having served as VP of Student Life himself.
“What I’ve learned (from student elections) is that you have to display your character to the campus and people are always watching.”
Other candidates anxiously anticipated the outcome of the appeal and of the general elections.
“I don’t like that it (the disqualification) had to happen by any means whatsoever,” Josh Duden, Gale’s opponent said. “But the elections were taken a little too far in the wrong direction and that is not best for Drake University and the candidates involved. I respect Joey Gale as a person and leader it was just taken a little too far.”
Gale is the current technology liaison and serves a the advertisement manager for The Times-Delphic.