Elections Commission temporarily suspends Hasan Pyarali’s campaign

The Student Body President candidate is barred from campaigning the day before polls open after failing to comply with Elections Commission instructions. He may resume campaigning this evening.


Maryam Khanum

Hasan Pyarali’s campaign is suspended until 5:24 p.m. tonight.

Editor’s Note: The Editorial Board announced their endorsement of Hasan Pyarali earlier today. The consequences faced by Pyarali that are detailed in this article do not change the Old Gold & Black’s decision of endorsement.  

Update (April 4, 2:48 p.m.): The Elections Commission initially declined the Old Gold & Black’s request for comment out of respect for the candidate’s privacy and their campaigns. The Elections Commission has now provided the Old Gold & Black with comments and new information on the incident, which have been added to this article.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that there had been “changes” to the election guidelines. The Old Gold & Black has since confirmed that no such changes have been made. Language in this article has been updated to reflect that. 

Student Government presidential candidate Hasan Pyarali’s campaign has been suspended until approximately 7:30 p.m. on April 3 following a violation of his Pledge to Abide by Campaign Regulations, according to an email obtained by the Old Gold & Black. 

The Pledge to Abide by Campaign Regulations is a pledge in the Student Government Elections Packet that candidates sign and agree to follow. Specifically, Pyarali failed to comply with instructions from the Elections Commission to archive endorsement posts on his campaign Instagram account. All emails mentioned in this article were obtained by the Old Gold & Black.

In an April 2 email, Pyarali received notice from the Elections Commission that one of his endorsement posts included a student who did not endorse him. Pyarali was instructed to archive every endorsement posted on his campaign account until each endorser mentioned in the post confirmed their endorsement with the Elections Commission. When Pyarali did not comply with this request, his campaign was suspended for 24 hours, starting at 7:24 p.m. on April 2. 

Furthermore, the Elections Commission stated in that same email that they would need verification of email communication between the Hasan for Wake campaign and every individual mentioned in an endorsement post. A clarification communicated in a March 29 email clarified that candidates could publish their endorsements as soon as they were approved by the Elections Commission.

Pyarali told the Old Gold & Black on Sunday that what he viewed as changes to the election guidelines signal election interference in favor of the other presidential candidate Jackson Buttler. 

“It seems that one campaign has been negatively affected throughout,” Pyarali said. 

In an April 4 statement to the Old Gold & Black, the Elections Commission said that: “There has been no ‘election interference’ on the part of the Elections Commission outside the role of the Elections Commission to investigate and enforce regulations.”

 The Chair of the Elections Commission Catherine Carpenter sent an email to Pyarali on April 1 stating that the Elections Commission received a tip that he not only did potentially “falsify an endorsement on a social media post,” but he also possibly “utilized his SBAC representative position for the purposes of obtaining campaign endorsement.” 

While the email states that the two alleged violations are “separate incidents,” Pyarali and his campaign team claim that both violations are related to the World Tea Association.

The Elections Commission told the Old Gold & Black that the violations are separate incidents and are not solely related to the World Tea Association. 

The Instagram post in question, published on March 30, featured an endorsement from the World Tea Association, including the name and image of one of its executive members, James Li (‘25). On March 31, Li told the Elections Commission that he reached out to Pyarali to request the removal of his name from the post for personal reasons — a request that Pyarali explained could not be fulfilled, citing the Elections Commission’s guidelines prohibiting the publishing of photos without naming each individual in the photo.

The Elections Commission told the Old Gold & Black that they do not have any guidelines that prohibit a candidate from removing a post. There are no rules in the elections packet that mention photographs of endorsers.  

“Pyarali’s claim that James Li’s request ‘could not be fulfilled’ is inaccurate,” the Elections Commission told the Old Gold & Black. 

Additionally, Pyarali responded to the Elections Commission explaining that Li consented to endorse him when he filled out the campaign staff form. According to the form, which was obtained by the Old Gold & Black, Li agreed to join his campaign staff. Joining a campaign staff is not the same as offering an endorsement, according to the Elections Commission. Li consented to joining the campaign staff but did not consent to endorsing Pyarali’s campaign. 

In his response to the Elections Commission, Pyarali emphasized that he had clarified that the photo and post were for endorsement purposes during his meeting with the World Tea Association. Li later wrote to the Elections Commission via email confirming that he misinterpreted the photo’s purpose and that Pyarali did not manipulate the endorsement. 

The Elections Commission told the Old Gold & Black that they never received the required written consent and confirmation of endorsement from Pyarali regarding Li. 

The 2023 elections packet requires confirmation from endorsers, according to its “Regulations Regarding Endorsements and Staff” section. It reads: The endorser must notify, either in writing or electronic mail, the Elections Commission of their intent to endorse 48 hours before the endorsement may be published.” 

“In his failure to obtain written consent/confirmation of endorsement, Hasan Pyarali did falsify an endorsement as posting said endorsement implies that written consent for endorsement was obtained by the candidate and/or the campaign,” the Elections Commission told the Old Gold & Black. “This issue does not arise from any miscommunication, but as previously expressed the candidate’s failure to obtain the necessary written consent from potential endorsers.” 

In his statement to the Old Gold & Black, Li explained how he approached the situation. 

“This decision has come as a surprise to me and seems severe given the situation. My name had been posted on Hasan’s campaign page when I did not intend to endorse him for personal reasons,” Li said. “He was respectful when I asked him to take the post down but he refused to do so, citing a technicality in the election rules. I had originally contacted the Elections Commission to see if an amicable solution could be reached. After that, Hasan reached out to me, and I learned that the committee wanted to charge him for falsifying endorsements and misusing his role as an SBAC representative for an organization which I am the treasurer for.” 

The Elections Commission confirmed that there is no technicality in election rules that bar a candidate from removing a post. Additionally, the Elections Commission told the Old Gold & Black that the endorsement post violation and misuse of Pyarali’s Student Budget Advisory Committee (SBAC) representative position are not related incidents. Additionally, the email sent to Pyarali stating potential violations did not explicitly confirm that the SBAC infraction was only related to the World Tea Association. 

“Nowhere in said email was there any indication that the potential SBAC infraction was about the World Tea Association, the organization for which James Li is treasurer. The connection between the two infractions is unfounded as they were separate investigations as was communicated with Pyarali,” the Elections Commission told the Old Gold & Black. 

Pyarali explained to the Elections Commission that his campaign could potentially be harmed by archiving all of his endorsement posts. He initially resisted the Elections Commission’s request to remove the posts from his campaign Instagram account, archiving only the post with the World Tea Association. 

Despite his temporary campaign suspension, Pyarali remains confident that he will win the presidency on April 5. 

“I still believe in our ability to win,” Pyarali said. “This campaign was always going to be running against the establishment. We knew they were going to do something like this, and we’ve been preparing for it. We still want to push forward.” 

Update April 3 at 5:18 p.m.: At 5:09 p.m., the Elections Commission adjusted the suspension by two hours. It will now end at 5:24 p.m., or 22 hours after Hasan Pyarali’s campaign received notice of suspension. The body of the article and the caption for the featured image have been updated to reflect this development.

Update April 3 at 5:54 p.m.: This article’s headline has been updated.