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Class elections to go on without Decker

A former candidate for the Class of 2005 presidency in today's class elections filed an appeal Wednesday, claiming that she was unfairly dismissed from the race.

Sophomore Rachel Decker said that although she admits she violated University e-mail regulations by sending a group e-mail to more than 1,000 sophomores, she did so ignorantly and is not guilty of another apparent violation - the advertisement of her campaign website in her e-mail.

Duke Student Government Attorney General Will Fagan said Wednesday night that he understood that Decker had filed an appeal, but was unavailable to attend a hearing on the matter. Today's election will proceed without Decker's name on the ballot, he said.

"We will go ahead with the election [Thursday] and have the hearing at some point after the election or during the election," Fagan said. "And if Rachel ends up winning the appeal, we would have to void the election for that candidacy and redo it."

Fagan would not comment further on the appeal, but said he felt Decker's removal from the race was justified.

"She was given all pertinent information and she was found guilty of two, not one, but two gross violations of the bylaws," he said.

Decker, who traveled to New York Wednesday night for the Easter holiday, said she made a grave mistake in sending out the e-mail - compiled by finding the addresses of every person in the Class of 2005 facebook - but that the election by-laws only state that a candidate may not advertise for a website on a flyer.

"In my flyers... there is not a single mention of a website anywhere. A flyer is not an e-mail," she said. "The by-laws are very specific, and they very specifically do not state anything about websites advertised in electronic correspondence."

Fagan said Decker did not get her website approved by the election commission, a violation of campaign by-laws, and said Decker's e-mail gave her a "huge advantage" over her opponent. Kate O'Neill, DSG chief of staff, could not be reached for comment to confirm when an appeals hearing will take place.

Today's election will run online at www.dsg.duke.edu from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. There will be no polling stations. Fagan said he did not anticipate a large turn-out because of the nature of the low-key campaign and because many of the races are uncontested. For example, without Decker on the ballot for president, every Class of 2005 race is uncontested.

Decker said she is considering taking legal action if her appeal is not approved.

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