SGA election controversy concludes

Jay Todd Richey addresses fellow Student Government Association members on Thursday, April 16, 2015, during a special hearing to finalize the decision on controversies over the 2015 presidential election. Anonymous accusations accused Richey of disobeying SGA election codes by placing posters in prohibited locations on campus. The SGA judicial council warned Richey against violating election codes in the future and stated he rightfully won the election. WILLIAM KOLB/HERALD

Lashana Harney

Two weeks of Student Government Association election controversy ended in a matter of 40 minutes.

Applause filled the room as the SGA Judicial Council finished announcing their verdict: Glasgow sophomore Jay Todd Richey remains President-elect. Richey’s presidency had been called into question after appeals filed stated Richey broke SGA election codes.

However, the council issued Richey a warning. 

Judicial Council member Abby Potter said the decision was unanimous.

“We just took all the figures into consideration, and the student body into consideration and made a level-headed decision,” Potter said.

Three election appeals were discussed during the meeting.

The first appeal was filed April 1 by an anonymous source stating Richey violated election code 3.4.6: “There shall be no campaign material distributed into or onto doors or doorways on campus.” Photographic proof of campaign materials placed on doors within academic buildings on campus, such as Thompson Complex were in the source’s possession, the source said and called for Richey’s disqualification as president.

Two more election appeals were filed April 8. 

Another anonymous source claimed Richey violated code 3.4.13, “All candidates shall remove all campaign material from university property no later than five (5) days after election.” Attached to the request were eight photos showing Richey’s campaign materials hanging up on South Campus. This source also called for Richey’s disqualification. 

The anonymous sources did not come forward.

Richey had five minutes to plead his case. 

“When I announced my campaign for SGA president about a month ago, I had one priority in mind: to do everything I could to ensure a better experience for each student at Western Kentucky University,” Richey said during his speech. 

Richey said the appeals threatened SGA’s credibility as an organization. 

“Let me be clear,” he said. “The poster was placed there by a member of my campaign team without my knowledge. The door was the only place in the building that looked like a common area for posters and he placed it there not realizing he was breaking any rules.” 

Richey said he takes full responsibility. 

However, he argued against his disqualification due to the magnitude of the violations. He said the violations were minor. 

Richey said he was convinced the anonymous sources behind the election appeals were not concerned with adherence to the elections, but rather an attempt to revoke his presidency. 

Richey provided time-stamped photographs to prove other candidate’s posters were still hanging up past the five-day stipulation. However, he did not want to file election appeals. 

“I chose not to file any kind of election appeal regarding these posters because I understand that honest mistakes happen,” Richey said. 

Richey said he regrets the controversy the incidents caused.

“I know that student government is better than this because I’ve seen it in our dedicated executive members, our passionate senators and the students who are willing to speak out for what they believe in,” he said. “That is the SGA that I love. That is the SGA I look forward to leading.” 

The third appeal, submitted by SGA senator Zach Jones, questioned the validity and legality of election code 3.4.6. Jones said in each SGA election he has experienced, the election code was broken by multiple candidates. 

Jones believes the election code needs to change. 

In response to Jones’ appeal, the Judicial Council suggested the Judicial Review Board, SGA senators and the Election Code Committee review election codes and make changes they deem necessary for next year’s election. 

After two weeks of waiting for the ruling, Richey said he is just happy to move forward. 

“I feel relieved,” Richey said. “I feel ecstatic because this means we get to move forward as an organization and I get to begin my work on behalf of the student body.”