On the first day of SGA elections, a Recognize UMD candidate who tried to drop out of the race last week was still on the ballot.
The Student Government Association’s elections board decided Keith Katz, who was running for financial affairs vice president but made a personal choice to withdraw from the race on April 10, had to be included in the proceedings anyway. Election rules say a ticket chair can revise the candidates on the ballot by submitting a request to the elections board by April 2. On or before that date, the board will remove a candidate from a ticket at that candidate’s request.
Aaron Gladstone, the head commissioner of the SGA elections board, said the body put Katz back in the running but didn’t specify why.
“There was an appeal that went to the governance board, and their ruling … required that Keith be put back on the ballot,” said Gladstone, a senior government and politics and history major.
SGA faculty adviser Ashley Venneman wrote in an email that “All I can say is there was a request made to SGA’s Governance Board to change the ballot but they ruled that the Elections Board cannot make changes to the ballot after April 2.”
Recognize UMD formed in part because its members, including presidential candidate Humza Yahya, said Andrew Stover — Envision Maryland’s financial affairs vice presidential candidate — isn’t fit for the job. Yahya, a junior accounting and information systems major and current member of the SGA’s Financial Affairs Committee, wanted to run to make elections more competitive, and said in a debate Thursday that “we need more perspectives on the SGA.”
Katz said he was surprised to see his name on the ballot. When he dropped out of the race, he had cited time concerns, which could conflict with campaigning and potentially operating as financial affairs vice president.
“Yesterday I got a call from the elections board, notifying me that my name would appear on the ballot, which I was very confused about,” said Katz, a junior economics major. “But it’s relatively inconsequential, considering it doesn’t create any requirements of me unless, of course, I win.”
SGA President AJ Pruitt said the election board’s hands were tied to tweak the official rules and remove Katz from the ballot after the April 2 deadline. The group’s Constitution and Bylaws Committee debates the election rules each November and sends them to the full legislature for a vote, and once this process is complete, the elections board can only interpret the rules, Pruitt said.
“In our election rules, it says the last date to make any alterations to your ticket as it will appear on the ballot is April 2, so their understanding is that alterations also include removing someone from the ballot,” said Pruitt, a senior economics and government and politics major.
If Katz were to win, he could resign instantly, but there isn’t a process or rule in place to determine who would take over, Gladstone said.
Despite requesting to be taken out of the race, Katz said he would vote for himself and would still recommend his friends to vote for him.
“I still do believe that I’m the best person for this position, so if by some miracle, without campaigning, I get the position, I would definitely strongly consider carrying it out,” Katz said. “It would require sacrificing either my mental health or my classes, but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.”
The other financial affairs vice presidential candidate, Stover, is currently serving as a Denton community representative in his second year on the body and has been on the academic affairs and financial affairs committees.
Stover said he believed his and Katz’s different approaches to the election would show in the upcoming results. Online voting began Tuesday and ends Friday.
“We are out here campaigning, and we’re talking to students. I haven’t seen that from the other party,” Stover said. “People have the right to choose whoever they want, but I think the students will probably look at our party favorably.”
CORRECTION: Due to an editing error, a previous version of this story misspelled Keith Katz’s name. This story has been updated.