Conscious slate president Svetla Turnin expressed suspicions of a corrupt electoral process in a press conference at the School of Community and Public Affairs on Monday.
About 25 people showed up to Turnin’s conference, which was called after she found out, by chance, that another slate was running under a name similar to her slate’s.
Turnin was informed of the other party, known as Conscious Concordia, on Friday evening, giving her only a few days to react before the official ballots were to be printed.
“Our website is consciousconcordia.org, we’ve been campaigning and saying that we’re Conscious or Conscious Concordia,” said Turnin, who had asked Chief Electoral Officer Danniella Brazel to scrap the copycat slate from the ballot.
“.(The slate known as Conscious Concordia) hasn’t postered, hasn’t participated in the campaigns, wasn’t included in the debate either,” Turnin said.
Though Turnin claimed she invited David Zand, the president of the mystery slate, he did not show up at the conference.
During an interview after the conference, Turnin said that Brazel should have never registered the party in the first place.
“It’s possible that it’s a mistake but I also think it’s possible that it’s a deliberate attempt to sabotage our election,” Turnin said.
Brazel, who was present at the meeting, agreed that having two parties with similar names posed a conflict, but stressed that no regulations prevented her from registering the party at the time. She added that a lawyer advised her not to take the name off the ballot.
“It’s still my job to uphold the standing regulations.” Brazel said.
Turnin moved from the offensive to the defensive after being called out on incorrect statements made by her party about Experience in the press release for the conference.
Turnin’s Conscious party took heat for claiming that ‘nearly the entire CSU executive,’ left their posts to campaign with Experience, when only three members out of eight actually took leave.
The release also quoted a Conscious member stating that Experience used CSU offices to store campaign materials, though Turnin admitted the accusation was based on second hand accounts rather than first hand knowledge.
In addition to hinting Experience may be receiving preferential treatment from the incumbent CSU government, Turnin also insinuated the slate is partaking in financial dishonesty by having a web site worth $7,000, something unaffordable on the strict $750 budget imposed on each slate. Conscious’ Anastasia Voutou, who sat by Turnin’s side during the meeting, maintained that for such large donations, the pricing scheme should be disclosed, “.(Because) there seems to be some kind of confusion in terms of the standing regs (regulations).”
Experience’s Peter Schiefke who, along with the rest of the Experience slate say they were not notified of the press conference, got word of the meeting and showed up to defend his slate from the faulty accusations.
“We weren’t invited,” he said, “And when we did find out about it, and got here, there were Conscious people at the door telling us we weren’t allowed in because it was a ‘private affair’!”
“A 7000$ website? If we pooled every person who supports Experience we couldn’t get 7000$ together!” he said, adding that the website was designed by a friend, for free. A safer estimate for the website, Shiefke said, would be somewhere around 40$, to cover domain name fees.
Schiefke shared his concerns that Conscious’ ‘unfounded accusations’ might mislead students.
“All you have to do is just make the statement,” he said. “It goes into the news, it creates doubt and students start being like ‘oh, wait a minute are they corrupt or are they not corrupt? You can’t just go around doing that, you need some kind of proof!”
Conscious stated in its press release and maintained during the conference that it held evidence of Experience’s foul play. However, the evidence distributed at the meeting, only yielded proof of a connection between members of the Conscious Concordia slate and the New Evolution party. At this time, Conscious has offered no substantial proof to The Concordian to back up its allegations against Experience. On Monday afternoon, the judicial board ruled to take Conscious Concordia off the ballot. However, the decision was not upheld and Conscious Concordia appeared on the official ballot on the first voting day, Tuesday March 28.