On Saturday, the University of Maryland SGA’s governance board opted to allow a disqualified party — the YOU Ticket — to rejoin the race. But a member of that board was affiliated with the very party the group decided to reinstate, an election official said Tuesday.
Erica Greenwald, who is a justice for the board, is listed as an affiliate for the YOU Ticket on the Student Government Association’s website. While SGA election affiliates are not candidates for elected office, they are formally associated with the ticket, and some advertise on the party’s behalf.
Greenwald told The Diamondback she didn’t know she was a part of the YOU Ticket.
“I didn’t know that there was a list of ticket affiliates,” said Greenwald, a sophomore government and politics major. “I had never heard that phrase before today, and I certainly didn’t know I was listed as an affiliate.”
The board’s chief justice, Jonathan Frank, could not be reached for comment.
[Read more: The Diamondback’s coverage of 2019 UMD SGA elections]
Andrew String, the presidential candidate on the YOU Ticket, said he talked to Greenwald in early March about joining the ticket. She originally expressed interest in running, he said, but later told him she couldn’t because of her schedule.
Greenwald said she had filled out an “interest form,” and did not know she would be listed as an affiliate.
“I never would’ve filled out this form if I realized I would be listed,” Greenwald said.
Greenwald said String was aware of her status as a member of the governance board, as she had talked with him before taking the position last semester.
“At the time, it didn’t cross my mind that her affiliation with the governance board would affect her wanting to be a legislator for the academic year,” String said. “She wanted to be involved, and that’s why we kept her on when she said she didn’t want to be a candidate anymore.”
Greenwald did not recuse herself from the board’s decision to add the YOU Ticket back to the ballot Saturday.
“She was there and was actively participating in the decision,” Nancy Jin, the chair of the SGA elections board, told The Diamondback.
The SGA’s elections commission announced on April 9 that the election — originally scheduled to begin the next day — would be delayed for five days to allow “complaints to be thoroughly and fairly processed.”
The commission found the YOU Ticket responsible for five campaign violations — breaking university policy by using amplified sound, campaigning in a dorm and participating in unauthorized advertising in a dorm, the library and off-campus. It decided to disqualify the party.
But the governance board found only three of those were true violations and chose to reinstate the group, calling the commission’s decision “overly harsh.”
Jin, a senior government and politics major, said she wasn’t aware of Greenwald’s status with the YOU Ticket until after the board made the call to keep the party in the running. She said it “seem[s] like a conflict of interest,” and questioned String’s explanation.
“I don’t see how someone saying they might be interested in running would be listed as a ticket affiliate,” she wrote in a message. “And it doesn’t make any sense that he would put her down without telling her.”
Valerie Kologrivov, the YOU Ticket’s campaign manager, said the campaign had not been in contact with Greenwald since March, and that Greenwald had agreed months beforehand she would not actively campaign.
But Jin said the YOU Ticket did not attempt to remove Greenwald as an affiliate before the April 9 deadline, which String confirmed.
Jin said there weren’t plans to further discipline the YOU Ticket. With elections closing Wednesday at 4 p.m., she said there wasn’t time to do so, and she didn’t want to appear in conflict with the governance board.
“I don’t think that would be a good look for us,” Jin wrote in a message.