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Molly Birch
Molly Birch
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My name is Molly, and I am in my second year at NMU. I come from Midland, MI, probably one of the most boring places on earth. However, we do have the only Tridge in the world, so that’s pretty nifty...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Women’s spring soccer comes to an end this weekend
Lily GouinApril 19, 2024

Election investigation launched during vote

ASNMU president Katerina Klawes was campaigning at the Marketplace on Tuesday evening when she received an email from ASNMU’s Election Committee that it was investigating a claim that she had forged an election document.

Klawes immediately stopped campaigning and began preparing for an emergency hearing scheduled the next morning, Wednesday, March 18, to address claims that she forged approval to canvass for re-election at Payne Hall.

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If the charges were proven, Klawes would be deemed ineligible for re-election. Klawes asked the Election Committee if she could see the document in question before her hearing.

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“That was never honored,” Klawes said.

The emergency meeting started about 10:15 a.m. Wednesday, March 18, when the ASNMU Election Committee told Klawes its course of action, giving her the option to drop out of the campaign or to continue under investigation.

Around 1:42 p.m. she received an email from Mitchell Sevigny, chair of the Election Committee, that her deadline to withdraw would be noon, Thursday, March 19, one hour before the NMU student government election results would be posted.

If Klawes didn’t comply and the Committee determined there was evidence that a document was forged, she would be disqualified and her opponent Lindsey Lieck would win by default.

According to Klawes, after she presented her evidence objecting to the claims, the Election Committee did not vote again to determine its course of action.

Four of the five Election Committee members had signed a document detailing her ultimatum, then did not reconsider it after she gave her defense.

“This was before I was able to provide my evidence,” Klawes said. “So they had come up with the decision of how to handle it before I could even defend myself.

“I think it’d be like the jury voting that someone’s guilty and then having the court case.”

The Election Committee received the claim at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17, then held a meeting at 5 p.m., which resulted in Klawes’ emergency hearing.

Klawes was presented with the three following charges: failure to receive permission to canvass at Payne Hall, failure to present written proof of permission to the Election Committee and falsifying and/or modifying messages in order to gain permission.

“I did not forge any documents or emails,” Klawes said. “What they are calling into question is a sentence.”

At the meeting, the Election Committee showed Klawes an email containing an allegedly fraudulent sentence granting her permission to campaign in Payne Hall.

She was not provided with a copy of the email and The North Wind could not obtain one before going to print.

Klawes said she received permission to canvass during a Payne Hall Government meeting on Thursday, March 12.

She emphasized that her vice presidential running mate Jess Gula and ASNMU General Studies Representative Sheila Williams canvassed in Payne Hall, but that Klawes herself did not. She claims this nullifies the first and second charges, which are dependent on each other.

“Two of the three charges are laughable, in my opinion,” Klawes said.

According to Klawes, Williams confirmed with Gula that they had permission.

No charges were made against Gula and a Payne Hall representative could not be reached.

The Election Committee is investigating the charges and promised to have the investigation results posted with election results.

In an official comment received via email, the Election Committee stated: “We take all complaints very seriously in order to uphold the fairness and integrity of the election.”

They did not comment further.

According to ASNMU Election Rules and Regulations, a candidate will be disqualified from the election if they commit three minor violations or one major violation in the campaigning process.

The Election Committee could not confirm whether the charges constitute major or minor violations.

Klawes requested senior political science major Brice Burge accompany her to the meeting for emotional support and witness testimony.

Burge claims he was advised by Election Committee members to not attend the meeting.

Even though Klawes was advised via email to bring witness testimony, Burge claimed committee members deliberated as to whether or not he could be present. While they discussed it, he went to the bathroom.

By the time he returned, the door was closed and the meeting was underway. No ASNMU advisers were present in either of the meetings and were not available for comment.

“It’s one sentence, which makes it really small,” Burge said, adding that forgery is significant whether or not it was seemingly minor. “Even though it is just one sentence at hand, you’ve got reputations and future reliability that you have at all points.”

Whether or not forgery was involved, Burge maintains Klawes was not given any form of due process.

“If there was fair time and due process to investigate and make sure that things were okay, then a lot of the [issues] would be remedied,” Burge said. “That process was completely undermined. To say Klawes was anything but railroaded is a complete understatement.”

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