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Dillen/Machina UPUA Presidential Ticket in Hot Water, Could be Disqualified

The 2013 UPUA election season is off to a stumbling start, and campaigning hasn’t even begun. The Elections Commission has been made aware of a potential violation in the Aaron Dillen/Elias Machina presidential ticket which could see the candidates disqualified from the race before it even starts.

It came as a surprise when the student government outsiders appeared on the presidential ballot for the 2013 UPUA election, although in hindsight, it’s not all that shocking considering Dillen’s recent activism. He has been written about in several national publications for his remarks about the Penn State Board of Trustees. Here’s a video of Dillen speaking to the Board of Trustees during the public comment portion of a meeting last September.

However his running mate, Machina, is unknown in the sphere of student politics and his status as a student could mean doom for the entire ticket. UPUA election code item 4.05 states that candidates must have:

Completion of two (2) semesters of residential instruction at University Park as a full-time student at the time of registration is required for the offices of President and Vice President and one (1) semester at time of registration for all other offices.

This policy effectively prohibits freshmen from running for President or Vice President.

Machina is listed in the directory as a “provisional student” which are “students who have high school diplomas (or the equivalents) but lack the credentials required for admission as degree candidates. These students enroll in classes on a space-available basis after degree candidates have been accommodated,” according to the DUS handbook. Machina is also listed on his Facebook page as a first year student, which means even if he did qualify as full-time student, he would not be eligible for UPUA’s highest ticket.

“I am a second-semester freshman,” Machina said in a phone interview, although he would not offer any additional comment on the matter.

The Elections Commission, which is tasked with enforcing potential violations, has been made aware of the situation, according to Head Elections Commissioner John Zang.

“We will be acting on that,” Zang said. “It was missed during registration. Previously the policy had been as long as you were in the midst of your second semester you would be permitted to run.”

If the Dillen/Machina ticket is found in violation of 4.05, it could mean disqualification for the entire campaign and Dillen would not be able to appoint a replacement. Election Code item 4.06 states:

The individuals on the ticket shall be joint and severally liable for each other, and the disqualification, resignation, or removal of one member of the ticket shall void the ticket as a whole.

“We will be acting upon that in the near future but I don’t have a date for you,” Zang said. “Hopefully it will be resolved as soon as possible.”

For Dillen, he regrets not reading the election code thoroughly enough and is prepared to deal with any consequences as a result. He has been made aware of the potential violation by the Elections Commission.

“It’s just a shame,” Dillen said. “It’s really just a technicality.” Candidates are still unable to speak at length about the election until Monday morning at 5 a.m. when campaigning can officially begin, per UPUA rules.

This isn’t the first time this part of the election code has been a subject of debate. The infamous David Adewumi/Sri Pisupati presidential ticket from two years ago was disqualified for violating the same rule because the Elections Commission determined that ‘Wumi had not completed two full-time semesters. Pisupati was also a freshman and in a similar situation as Machina. At the time, the election code stated that candidates must have:

Attendance at University Park for two (2) semesters for the offices of President and Vice President and one (1) semester for all other offices.

That decision was appealed and ultimately overturned by the Board of Arbitration after two hours of deliberation in a heated 5-3 decision because the wording was deemed too vague. The next year, UPUA amended the code to include more specific language so this problem would not arise again.

Unfortunately, it looks like it has.

Dillen’s opponent Katelyn Mullen would not offer comment on the situation because of the no-campaigning restriction.

About the Author

Ryan Beckler

Ryan is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He is a Lion Ambassador who loves giving tours to prospective students. His favorite activities include distributing news and consuming Chipotle.

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