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UPUA Elections Commission Investigates Code Violations Ahead Of Results Announcement

Just minutes before the Elections Commission prepared to announce results of this year’s University Park Undergraduate Association election, the process was derailed by a seemingly-widespread campaign violation that needed investigation.

As the Elections Commission announced the violation and “investigation” to the media, a slew of candidates arrived outside of 102 HUB, where the commission tallies results before releasing them in 233 HUB. Chief Justice Jonathan Kinney told them the violation had to do with defamatory remarks.

The only spot that defamation is mentioned in the Elections Code is laid out as follows:

§5.3 Candidates and Campaigns shall be required to adhere to all University Policies and shall not engage in any of the following:

§5.3.1 Making defamatory remarks in the public about another candidate, or encouraging others to make such remarks.

§5.3.2 Fostering prejudice against another candidate because of membership in any class protected by the Penn State non-discrimination statement or by law.

§5.3.3 Engaging in the removal, destruction, or mutilation of another candidate’s campaign paraphernalia or encouraging others to perform such acts.

The Elections Commission proceeded to question each of the candidates, who were all endorsed by College Democrats, one by one. After a few people were questioned and released, it was determined that the candidates would be able to have an “advisor” in the Elections Commission room with them. Advisors then included McKinney/Griggs Campaign Manager Ben Cutler, College Democrats President Katierose Epstein, and current UPUA Representative Jake Springer.

College Democrats tweeted out their endorsements list throughout the day when the polls were open:

It’s unclear who allegedly made the defamatory marks, or who the subject was. After the Elections Commission finishes interviewing each of the involved candidates, it will need to make a decision on the reported violation and potential consequences — this must be announced within two academic days, so if nothing else, we should know more by the end of the week. Commissioner O’Neill Kennedy speculated before the investigation that it was unlikely anyone would be disqualified as a result of these violations.

More than 30 violations have been reported to the Elections Commission this election cycle, with only two ultimately levied.

We’ll keep you posted on this situation and the results of today’s election when they are eventually announced.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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