Nine candidates were disqualified from student government elections on the evening of Feb. 24 after failing to submit campaign expenditure receipts, according to Student Government Association (SGA) Elections Board Chair Annie Skelton (21Ox, 23C). 

Those disqualified include SGA presidential candidate Rizky Lubis (24C), uncontested College Council vice presidential candidate Muhammad Sami (25C), College Council second year legislator candidate Taimin Liao (26C), College Council third year legislator candidates Michelle Tucker (25C) and Veronica Vargas (25C) and College Council fourth year legislator candidates Arden Chan (22Ox, 24C) and Orion Jones (24C).

Additionally, Sneha Galani (24B) and Ankita Acharya (22Ox, 25C), who were running for Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Council SGA representative and BBA junior representative, respectively, purposely did not submit receipts to be disqualified since it was too late to drop out, according to Skelton.  

There are two candidates left in the BBA SGA representative race and three left in the BBA junior representative race, with two open seats in each respective race. 

Galani did not respond to request for comment by press time.

Skelton added that the Code of Elections is “crystal clear” on the rules in the event of a candidate not submitting their receipt. 

According to the Code of Elections Part V, Article 4, candidates must file a “full and itemized account of expenditures, including receipts and donations, both monetary and in-kind” with SGA or the Board of Elections by noon on Election Day, when voting kicks off. The voting period began at noon on Feb. 24 and ends at noon on Feb. 27.  

The Code of Elections also states that “failure to file an itemized account shall result in the disqualification of the candidate from the election. Inaccuracies in the account may be cause for violation and sanction by the Board.”

Skelton said there used to be an “inconsistency” in which elections started at noon, but candidates would have until 5 p.m. to submit their receipts. The recent slew of disqualifications came after the updated Code of Elections with a changed deadline to submit receipts to noon. 

“While I am sympathetic with the candidates that have put time and effort and everything into their campaign, there’s quite literally nothing the Board can do to make exceptions or reverse this decision,” Skelton said. 

Skelton added that candidates received four email reminders and were told during the interest sessions that they needed to file receipts, even if they did not spend any money on campaigning. 

Since voting has already opened, Skelton said it is too late to remove their names from the ballot, so the positions will be considered vacant. 

As a result, Lubis will remain on the SGA presidential ballot. Since the race requires a winning candidate to garner more than 50% of the vote, the election will advance to a run-off if neither Khegan Meyers (24B) nor MaKenzie Jones (22Ox, 24C) obtains a majority, according to Skelton. In the event that Lubis receives more than 50% of the vote, his disqualification would mean that Meyers and Jones would still advance to a run-off. 

Lubis, Meyers and Jones did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Additionally, the College Council vice presidential position will be considered vacant after Sami’s disqualification. According to Skelton, it will be up to College Council leadership on how to handle the vacancies. 

Sami wrote in an email to the Wheel that he feels positive about the disqualification, noting “either we can complain or learn and grow out of the situation.” He also wrote that he will soon be releasing a “video response” to the disqualification.  

With Tucker and Vargas’ disqualification, there are only two remaining students running for six open College Council third year legislator seats. 

Tucker wrote in an email to the Wheel that she plans to apply for appointment given the vacancies for the third-year legislator position. 

“It’s a little silly to disqualify a qualified candidate over an empty receipt,” Tucker wrote.

College Council second-year legislator candidate Ada Demling (25C), who is still in the race, echoed Tucker’s sentiment in an email to the Wheel.

“While I trust the appointment process, we are supposed to be representatives elected by our peers,” Demling wrote. “Most of the time legislative races are not competitive, so it feels a little silly for qualified and enthusiastic candidates to be disqualified, for no one to take their place.” 

Demling added that although she understands that disqualification resulting from failure to submit receipts is outlined in the Code of Elections and must be followed, she believes it should result in a warning and a chance to rectify the issue.

“This is a change I’d like to see made in the future,” Demling wrote. “Especially for legislative races, most people do not spend a cent. Failure to submit receipts is not malicious evasion, but a tiny thing that slips the mind — especially for those of us who don’t have any receipts to submit!”

Vargas did not respond to request for comment by press time.

Similarly, only two students are left vying for six College Council fourth year legislator positions following Chan and Jones’ disqualifications. Five candidates are still in the race for the six College Council second year legislator seats after Liao’s disqualification.

Chan wrote in an email to the Wheel that the Board sent out “adequate” information and reminders regarding candidate requirements, explaining that he had a “busy week filled with midterms” that barred him from submitting his receipts in time.

“I did not monitor my inbox for the specific information from the Elections Board, so I missed the deadline,” Chan wrote. “It is unfortunate, but I will take responsibility for missing the deadline.”

Jones and Liao did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

Update (2/26/23 at 11:47 a.m.): A previous version of this article included comments from Ankita Acharya (22Ox, 25C), which have since been removed.

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Brammhi Balarajan (23C) is from Las Vegas, majoring in political science and English and creative writing. She is the Editor-in-Chief of The Emory Wheel. Previously, her column "Brammhi's Ballot" won first place nationally with the Society of Professional Journalists. She has also interned with the Georgia Voice.

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News Editor | Madi Olivier (she/her, 25C) is from Highland Village, Texas, and is planning on majoring in psychology and minoring in rhetoric, writing and information design on the pre-law track. Outside of the Wheel, she can be found listening to Hozier and Rainbow Kitten Surprise, binge-watching Criminal Minds or trying to pet the Emory cats.