Aaron Dillen, one of the presidential candidates in the UPUA elections, withdrew from the race on Monday night.
The decision to find the Aaron Dillen-Elias Machina ticket in violation of UPUA elections code was made Sunday night by the UPUA elections commission after the commissioners were able to meet, Paul Ferrera, UPUA’s deputy commissioner for administration and enforcement, said. He said he informed Dillen and Machina of the violation via email Sunday night.
The Dillen-Machina ticket was found by the commission to be in violation of elections code section 4.05, which states that candidates running for an executive ticket must have completed two full semesters of study and be registered as a full-time undergraduate student at University Park.
Vice presidential candidate Machina, who is listed as a provisional student on the Penn State student directory, was found in violation of the code because he has not completed two full semesters of study at University Park.
Ferrera (senior-finance) said the elections commissioners were aware of Dillen-Machina’s possible ineligibility, but the decision to disqualify the ticket was not made until all the commissioners could meet and discuss the situation following spring break.
John Zang, head elections commissioner, said in a previous interview that the possible violation was brought to the attention of the commissioners by “certain registrants.” He declined to release the name of the registrants because of privacy concerns.
Dillen and Machina were aware of the ongoing investigation, Zang (senior-international politics) said.
Originally, Dillen-Machina planned to appeal the commissioners’ decision, and there were plans in place to hold a hearing with the Board of Arbitration on Tuesday night.
In an interview Monday night, Dillen said, in light of the hearing, he is withdrawing from the election.
Dillen said he “would have had a good argument” and “probably would have won” the appeal, but decided the best course of action was withdrawal.
In a previous interview, before Dillen’s decision, Board of Arbitration Chief Justice Ryan Thomas said there was a chance the violation would be overturned.
“I think it really could go either way,” Thomas (senior-psychology) said.
When he filed the paperwork for candidacy registration, Dillen was unaware of the stipulation that students who have not completed two full semesters are ineligible to run, Dillen (sophomore-rehab human services) said.
“I just wanted to make changes at Penn State and make it a better place for students,” Dillen said.
Dillen also said he feels he can better serve the students and enact change outside of UPUA.
Dillen contacted the elections commission late Monday night to inform the body of his decision to withdraw.
Ferrera confirmed Dillen’s withdrawal, saying Dillen was “officially out” of the race.
The Dillen-Machina ticket has been removed from vote.psu.edu, the UPUA elections website, Ferrera (senior-finance) said.
The team of Mullen-Dooley is now running an uncontested executive ticket.
UPUA held its first election in 2006 and there has never been an uncontested presidential race, making this year’s race the first time in the assembly’s history an executive ticket is running unopposed.
“It’s certainly disappointing,” Zang said of the situation.
Zang said he thought students were unwilling to run for an executive ticket this year because of confusion stemming from the late passage of the elections code.
The elections code was passed on Feb. 14 at a general assembly meeting. The registration period opened on Feb. 18.
The registration period will not be reopened to allow additional candidates to place a bid for an executive ticket.
Ferrera said it would be “unfair to Mullen-Dooley and other candidates” if the commissioners allowed additional students to register.
Katelyn Mullen, now the only presidential contender, declined comment on Dillen’s withdrawal.
As of press time Monday, Machina could not be reached for comment.
The commissioners are not sure how an uncontested presidential ticket would affect the election proceedings.
Zang said the commissioners are considering holding a town hall forum instead of presidential debates. Students would be given the opportunity to ask questions of the Mullen-Dooley ticket. Zang also added that the commissioners are “open to suggestions” regarding additional changes.
In addition, the Board of Arbitration official Twitter account, which had been inactive since April 2011, retweeted a tweet from Brenden Dooley, a vice presidential candidate running with Katelyn Mullen, UPUA’s current vice president. The tweet from Dooley read “Make sure to follow @Mullen_Dooley this @UPUA campaign season.”
Thomas said the tweet was not an endorsement of the Mullen-Dooley ticket and the Board of Arbitration does not endorse candidates. Thomas said he and only one other person have access to the account password and he did not retweet Dooley’s tweet.
The tweet in question has since been removed from the Board of Arbitration’s account. However, the tweet is still visible on Dooley’s personal account.