The Elections Board upheld Student Government Association (SGA) Chief of Staff Mario Karras’ (17Ox, 19B) candidacy for SGA president in a 6-0 decision after he failed to declare his candidacy by the deadline, according to Chair of the Elections Board Betty Zhang (20C).
The deadline to declare candidacy in the Spring 2018 elections was March 18 at 11:59 p.m., but Zhang told the Wheel on Monday that she had not received Karras’ declaration through the designated Google form by then. Zhang brought Karras’ case to the Elections Board for review on March 19 after another SGA presidential candidate inquired if Karras was running.
“Mario’s passion and dedication can be seen through his effort in having made all campaign materials, including a comprehensive website, prior to this complication,” Zhang wrote in a March 20 email to the Wheel. “Due to Mario’s previous experience as SGA Chief of Staff, we believe that this mistake does not disqualify him from deserving the chance to become president.”
Karras said that he was in Egypt when he completed the declaration form, but the form may not have submitted properly due to his “spotty” internet connection.
“I sent her an email with my Emory NetID … and I also filled out the Google form,” Karras said. “But I guess the Wi-Fi was a little spotty in Egypt, so I guess my Google form didn’t go through.”
Although the Elections Board did not have evidence of Karras’ submission, it decided that “technical issues related to Wi-Fi crash is not an invalid reason [for allowing Karras to run],” Zhang said.
Karras had submitted campaign materials to Zhang for approval prior to the declaration deadline, Zhang said.
“I gave my approval without knowing that he did not submit the declaration,” Zhang wrote in a March 19 email to the Wheel.
A candidate must register his or her campaign with the Elections Board, according to Part 4, Article 2 of the University elections code. The Elections Board determines the date and times of candidate registration, the code states.
Fellow SGA presidential candidate Dwight Ma (17Ox, 19C) said that he thought the board’s decision was unfair. Zhang had written in emails to the candidates that late submissions on the declaration form would not be accepted.
“The Elections Board already said that they wouldn’t give an exception,” Ma said. “I think the Elections Board still made a special case for him … He [Karras] can’t say he declared. There’s no way for him to get proof.”
In addition to Karras and Ma, Sanim Choudhury (19C) and Elias Neibart (20C) declared candidacy for SGA president. Neibart declined to comment, and Choudhury did not respond by publication time.