ASSU Elections Commission denies fraud and bias allegations from Carmen Kang

The Associated Students of Stanford University (ASSU) Elections Commission denied allegations of election fraud and misconduct in response to a complaint filed by Undergraduate Senator Carmen Kang ’26 with the Constitutional Council. The commission called for Kang’s expulsion from the Undergraduate Senate (UGS), due to her “attempts to coerce, intimidate and assume full control” of the Senate.

Kang’s initial complaint called for investigations into six senators, three individuals on the elections commission and the sponsor of a student petition on divestment. She criticized ties between elected ASSU officials and the pro-Palestine encampment and raised concerns about harassment and bullying.

Gordon Allen ’26 and Ivy Chen ’26, two senators she named, said they believed it stemmed from her desire to hold the co-chair role. 

Co-chairs lead meetings, create agendas and meet with University administrators. Kang initially emailed senators to delay the co-chair appointment while the Constitutional Council reviewed her complaints. The May 15 UGS meeting proceeded as planned, with Allen and Chen elected as co-chairs.

Kang stressed that her complaint was not motivated by the co-chair role, but tied to “cyclical corruption” in ASSU governance.

Since her complaint was made public, dozens of posts and comments on the anonymous social media Fizz ridiculed Kang —  “ck” and “carmen kang” trended for several days. 

Most students expressed support for the senators implicated in Kang’s complaint, though some Fizz users criticized Chen for her fears that Kang would escalate to physical violence. 

Chen and Allen, who contacted SUDPS, elaborated on the concerns in a follow up statement to The Daily. “Given the common association between perceived mental instability and concerns for safety, particularly involving firearms, it is natural to worry in such situations,” they wrote. SUDPS sent an officer to last week’s UGS meeting.

Kang said that she was “surprised” by the police presence “because [she] was the one receiving threats.” 

A SUDPS public safety officer was present at the request of an ASSU representative, wrote University spokesperson Luisa Rapport in a statement to The Daily.

“We have no reason at this time to believe further security is needed,” Rapport wrote. “SUDPS spoke with senators and received no substantiated information of a threat to any individuals.”

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In her complaint, Kang wrote that the elections commission “unlawfully” sanctioned her and presented inaccurate election results.

The elections commission, which includes commissioner Amira Dehmani ’24 and assistant commissioners Leon de Souza ’24 and Viswajeeth Karthikeyan ’27, pushed back on the complaint. They wrote that they investigated Kang for unlawful campaigning in March and granted her due process. 

Per the commission, Kang violated ASSU bylaws by campaigning with student data from a survey on restaurant discounts.

On March 20, they informed Kang about a five-day suspension from campaigning, which Kang appealed a few hours later, writing that the survey was not tied to an official ASSU initiative. She also criticized the commission’s decision to issue a notice and verdict at the same time.

The commission met with Kang for two hours on March 20 to address her concerns. 

According to Kang, Dehmani suggested in this meeting that her “network with the Constitutional Council” would disadvantage Kang if she pursued the complaint further. Dehmani denied that she pressured Kang into dropping the appeal.

In correspondence with the commission, Kang alleged that other incumbent senators Chen and Allen participated in harassment against her on Fizz, which included comments about her appearance and platform.

To Kang, the meeting with the commission was more humiliating than the discourse on Fizz.

She wrote in a March 22 email that she felt “profoundly oppressed” and “as though my rights had been deeply violated.” As a result, she wrote that she endured a health crisis that involved respiratory distress and vertigo.

She requested an eight-day extension to decide on appealing the sanction, adding that any correspondence “may be submitted as evidence in a court of law.”

The commission did not seem to address the request for an extension. In the response filed to the Constitutional Council, they characterized the email as “emotionally manipulative.” 

Kang ultimately complied with the five-day sanction, but raised concerns about the election once results were released. She pointed to discrepancies in voter data, including in preliminary results shared and since deleted on Instagram. 

The Instagram post was “human error” prompted by “an eagerness to celebrate,” the commission wrote. 

Several students also received ballots late during the election. Kang said she spoke with a student who was upset with the election commission’s response, which per the student, lacked empathy and efficiency. Eligible students eventually received ballots.

According to the commission, the issue was tied to how student information was categorized by Stanford. As student data was re-coded without notice to the commission, it created an issue, which was promptly corrected, the commission wrote in its response.

To Kang, the errors represented a bias towards a pro-Palestine slate and other incumbent senators. For instance, Kang said, initial tallies on a now-passed “Boycott, Divest and Sanction” referendum were shared with students. 

The commission said the tallies were generic estimates intended to encourage voting across the board, not towards a specific ballot item.

Commissioners investigated the four senators who ran on the shared BDS slate (Lizbeth Hernandez Rios ’25, David Sengthay ’26, Ethan Alfonso ’27 and Vivianna Chuquijajas ’26) during the election. The investigation cleared them of violations related to campaigning at the pro-Palestine encampment.

In her complaint, Kang found it odd that the BDS slate and Chen and Allen finished first through sixth in the election. She calculated the probability as “1 in 376,740.”

“Elections are fundamentally popular votes, not random lotteries,” the commission wrote in its response.

In an amici curiae supporting the six undergraduate senators named in Kang’s complaint, the commission wrote that they investigated the senators following complaints from Kang starting from April. They found no evidence of violations raised in Kang’s complaint, like undisclosed campaign expenditures and discrimination against other candidates. 

The commission called for Kang’s expulsion and criticized her complaint as an attempt to intimidate other senators and ASSU officials, “making the ability to conduct our ASSU duties difficult.”

Kang wrote Thursday on her social media that she would not mind potential expulsion, “if students who were not elected due to violations and misconduct can reclaim their rightful places.”

The Constitutional Council decides whether or not to accept Kang’s petition on May 24.