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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Senate special session called to discuss accusation of election fraud

An accusation of election fraud and instances of unprofessionalism from Business Manager Greg Ortiz and Creative Media Director Alex Park resulted in a Senate special session

By JENNIFER MA — campus@theaggie.org 

On Nov. 17, Vice President Juliana Martinez Hernandez called the special session to order at 8:15 a.m. and the table moved directly into Public Discussion after the Land Acknowledgement. 

Senator Kabir Sahni stated that Business Manager Greg Ortiz and Creative Media Director Alex Park accused Martinez Hernandez and Senate President Pro Tempore Kabir Sahni of fraud related to releasing the ASUCD election results on Nov. 12. 

This was due to an issue where Devin Santiago-Vergara, who served as the emergency elections chair for the fall 2021 elections, could not release the results, but he gave authority to Sahni and Martinez Hernandez to act in his stead via email.

“It was just a lot of miscommunication,” said ASUCD President Ryan Manriquez in an interview after the meeting. “I think [Ortiz and Park] just assumed first that it’s election fraud […] like that was their first instinct. In reality, they, Kabir and Juliana, were totally in the right and they were just following the instructions of the election chair.”

Sahni said that he has not felt safe in ASUCD since this incident.  

Martinez Hernandez stated that she shared Sahni’s sentiments and now feels uncomfortable on the third floor. 

Senator Kristen Mifsud said that she has worked well with Ortiz and Park in the past, but it is clear to her that their behavior has been “unacceptable” and “appalling.”

Santiago-Vergara said that in his capacity as chair he did not have the power to influence elections. He also stated that after working with Park in this position he feels uncomfortable when he sees him. 

The table then moved into Senate Discussion. Senator Harris Razaqi stated that Park had failed to post the election results for five days after the elections ended and did not show respect for the authority of the elections chair. The table agreed on a closed session with Park to resolve these issues. 

Senator Owen Krauss then shifted the focus back to an email Ortiz sent on Sept. 21. In the email, Ortiz apologized for raising his voice at members of Senate during ASUCD Orientation. Since then, Krauss stated, there have been multiple incidents where Ortiz has “berated” members of Senate including Martinez Hernandez. Krauss stated that a closed session with Ortiz was necessary to discuss these issues. Razaqi seconded the motion.

Martinez Hernandez adjourned the meeting at 9:06 a.m. 

Both Park and Ortiz did not attend their respective closed sessions.

Park and Ortiz did not respond to a request for comment on Nov. 21.

Written by: Jennifer Ma — campus@theaggie.org 

Kathleen Quinn also contributed to this report.


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