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SOFC chair result overturned in favor of Alexa Soren

Gwen Geng's Wednesday victory has been reversed

<p>Gwen Geng (left) was announced as the original winner in the SOFC chair election, but the result was overturned in favor of&nbsp;Alexa Soren (right).</p>

Gwen Geng (left) was announced as the original winner in the SOFC chair election, but the result was overturned in favor of Alexa Soren (right).

Alexa Soren will be the Student Organization Funding Committee chair for the 2016-17 academic year after Wednesday's election result was overturned following complaints filed by Soren.

Soren, a junior, filed the complaint against fellow candidate Gwen Geng, a sophomore, following the release of Wednesday's election results. The original election was 1,242 votes to 991 votes in Geng's favor, but Geng was docked 328 votes to make the final vote tally 991-914 votes in Soren's favor.

"It was revealed throughout the day that she had sent a bunch of emails from the SOFC account," said junior Annie Adair, interim Duke Student Government attorney general and chief of staff.

Senior Robin Zhang, the attorney general who oversaw the election, was asked to step down Thursday.

Soren's complaint stated that Geng used the official SOFC programming Gmail account—which she had access to as SOFC vice chairperson of the programming fund—to contact students about her campaign, in addition to sending "unsolicited" Facebook messages and text messages to people who did not know how Gwen got their number.

In a Thursday hearing, Adair found that there was evidence enough that Geng had sent emails to 82 student organization leaders via the SOFC email account Sunday and Tuesday. The Sunday email blast introduced Geng as a candidate for SOFC chair and the Tuesday email reminded the leaders to vote and included a link to the DukeGroups ballot.

Geng was docked one vote for each of the 164 emails sent and another 164 votes for each unauthorized contact Geng made through the emails—328 votes in total.

Had Geng sent the emails through her personal duke.edu email account, they may have been allowed to stand—if they had even been discovered, Adair explained. However, Geng was worried about the emails being received if she sent them from her personal account.

"She said she was afraid [the emails] wouldn't get through," Adair said. "I didn't find that compelling enough that she wasn't using her position for gain."

Although the emails were found to be cause for vote docking, the Facebook messages and text messages were rejected due to a lack of constitutional precedent for the Facebook messages and a lack of evidence for the text messages.

Geng will be able to appeal the decision in front of the DSG Judiciary, chaired by Chief Justice Dana Raphael, a junior.

Correction: This article was updated to clarify that Geng had access to the official SOFC programming Gmail account as SOFC vice chairperson of the programming fund, not DSG treasurer. The Chronicle regrets the error.

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