San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Committee clears AS President-elect accused of voter intimidation

In a 5-4 vote, the AS Election Committee failed to pass a motion with two thirds support that suggested AS President-elect Tarek Morsy was at fault for an AS Elections Code campaign violation
AS President-elect, Tarek Morsy, gives a public comment against the claims of voter intimidation he faced at an AS Elections Committee meeting Wednesday night.

The Associated Students Elections Committee ruled in favor of AS President-elect Tarek Morsy as he faced claims of an alleged campaign violation involving the intimidation of voters while on the voting website.

Presidential candidate Leanne Locano’s campaign manager Mayah Taylor filed a complaint on March 22, prior to the announcement of election results, stating that Morsy had broken section 3.08F of the Elections Code. This section states: 

No active or verbal campaigning or intimidation of any type shall occur that interferes with or unduly influences in any way a student while at the web site while attempting to cast a vote, including but not limited to members affiliated with a campaign presenting students with a means to vote.

“It was unnerving,” Morsy said. “It’s hard to sit still when something like that is happening. It’s hard to sit still when decisions are being made about your life and you have no say in them.”

Taylor and Locano submitted and addressed photos of Morsy sporting a campaign shirt and speaking with students while looking at cell phones in front of Hepner Hall. However, the submitted images could not clearly show whether those pictured were on the voting website. 

Although candidates are allowed to campaign on campus, Taylor’s team and public commenters supporting Taylor’s team claimed Morsy intimidated students into voting for him. Taylor’s supporters claimed Morsy blocked students’ paths or followed them while they walked across campus and then watched them as they voted. 

Morsy denied these claims and his team submitted a packet with responses as a rebuttal, however none of the rebutting comments in the packet addressed section 3.08F. The Elections Committee later debated whether the public comment claims were mainly hearsay, whether they should be considered and what was happening on the phones in the photos.

“So, a lot of people came up here and said they felt intimidated, and to those people I very genuinely apologize,” Morsy said. “I did not mean to come off that way. And, to all the people that said they felt intimidated, a lot of their stories don’t exactly line up.”

The committee first discussed the complaint on March 24 but continued the discussion further on Wednesday when 60 public commenters, both supporters and critics of Morsy, shared their experience regarding the alleged campaign violation. Morsy and Locano both made public statements themselves on Wednesday, however Locano used her time to play a recorded statement from another student. 

The overwhelming majority of public comments on Wednesday were made in favor of Morsy, although several students made comments both on March 24 and on Wednesday supporting the allegations.

After questioning and discussion, the committee members voted five to four in favor of a motion that suggested Morsy violated section 3.08F. Although a majority of the board agreed Morsy had been in violation of the code, the motion did not meet the required two-thirds approving vote from the committee and the motion to find Morsy in violation failed. 

“I think that the majority did rule that, yes, this was a violation,” Locano said. “Unfortunately, it was not two thirds, but I think that does say something. And, I think it also sets a precedent for the following years. At the end of the day, intimidation is not okay. And I do feel a lot of voices were neglected, those that did feel intimidated.”

In the previous meeting the committee asked directly to Morsy if he had been present while students were voting. He responded by saying, “sometimes yes and sometimes no.”

Although the committee did not allow Morsy time to explain this answer further, he said after the Wednesday meeting that the reason he answered in this manner was due to the website crashing when students attempted to access the voting site. 

Morsy said that he had to direct students to the site manually as his QR code had stopped working. He said that he told students he had to then leave, however he did not feel that he could walk away from students as they questioned him on what his campaign stood for at that point. 

“I can’t walk away from them while they’re asking me, ‘What do you want to do with the $36 million budget?’” Morsy said. “I have to answer their questions. And while I’m answering their questions, they happen to be on the voting site.”

As of now Morsy is still set to be sworn in to office on May 3, assuming the AS Judicial Affairs Committee approves the unofficial AS election results in upcoming days. The results reflected Morsy as the winner with just a 92 vote advantage over Locano. 

Locano remained in her stance after Wednesday’s meeting, but declined to comment whether or not she and Taylor would be submitting an appeal request regarding the committee’s decision. 

According to the Elections Code, if an appeal is filed within 48 business hours of the conclusion of Wednesday’s meeting, an Appeals Panel may choose to hear the case based on rationale. If the panel decides to move forward, its members would review the record of the hearing being appealed and decide in finality whether to support, remand or modify the decision of the Elections Committee.

“They could appeal this,” said Morsy. “This team has a spirit of never giving up, which is a good thing and a horrible thing for me. But they could appeal this, so I’m not fully comfortable yet. I’ll try to sleep today, but I’ll probably be biting my nails.”

If an Appeal Panel overturned the Elections Committee’s ruling on the violations, the AS Board of Directors and AS Judicial Affairs Council could potentially overturn election results with a two thirds vote, according to section 5.08 of the Elections Code. If sufficient evidence exists supporting that the violation may have significantly affected the results of the presidential election, a two thirds vote may invalidate the election.

“The reason I’m here is because I care about the integrity of AS elections,” said Locano. “I would not have been in the meeting today, regardless of the outcome, because I care about elections. And, that is something that I am very proud of because I know that I ran a moral and respectful race.”

About the Contributor
Christian Houser
Christian Houser, '22-23 News Editor
Christian Houser (he/him/his) is a Journalism and Economics double major, originally from Frisco, Texas. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists chapter at SDSU and is heading into his final year. His love for writing and learning has led him to his new role as the Daily Aztec’s (DA) News Editor. If Christian isn’t playing basketball or exploring new places, you’ll find him reading news articles, watching documentaries and seeking the absolute truth in journalism. Christian is looking forward to bringing intriguing and hard-hitting news stories to SDSU and the Daily Aztec.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Committee clears AS President-elect accused of voter intimidation