The Student Government senate, in order to prevent Tuesday’s student body presidential election from being postponed, met in a special session Sunday night and retroactively confirmed all members of the Election Rules Commission as of Jan. 17. The members of the ERC have been performing all of the ERC’s duties throughout this entire election season but were never properly appointed.
The SG Supreme Court ordered Friday that the elections needed to be called off because of procedural errors in the hiring of students to work on the ERC. The court said the ERC was not valid, and thus no candidates had been confirmed to run in the upcoming election.
The senate must confirm each member of the ERC. The senate had only confirmed ERC Director Andrew Kirkland prior to Sunday night.
The ERC oversees all aspects of the student body elections, including certifying candidates, approving campaign materials and assessing points for violating campaigning rules.
The court decided that because correct procedure was not followed in the formation of the ERC, nothing it had done was official. That included certification of candidates; thus without any candidates, the court decreed the election had to be postponed.
According to senate President Pro Tempore James Culp, the retroactive approval of the members of the ERC means that everything relating to the election will go forward as if the court decision was never made and this past weekend never happened. That includes the certification of candidates, approval of campaign materials and assessment of points for breaking campaign rules.The senate debated at length the idea of postponing the elections to a later date.
SG Director David Armstrong and former SG Attorney General Silverlee Hernandez both informed the senate that changing the dates of the election was not an option, since the dates are specifically designated in both the SG constitution and the SG statutes.
Culp first brought the issue of the ERC’s validity to the Court after discovering the procedural error Thursday. He was preparing to represent student body presidential candidate Frank Harrison and his running mate Faran Abbasi in front of the Court later that night. The Harrison/Abbasi ticket was appealing one point the ERC had assessed for posting large signs on campus before it was allowed.
He originally argued to the Court that the ERC was invalid and could not assess points to candidates for violating campaign rules.
The Court agreed that the ERC was invalid, but took the next step by declaring all actions of the ERC null and void, not just points assessed.
This unusual episode has left some candidates with a bad taste in their mouths.
Student body presidential candidate Ben Sens said he felt that other tickets got an unfair advantage by campaigning over the weekend. His ticket was told not to campaign during the confusion, a request he said his ticket complied with.
As soon as the Court called the election off, all candidates were then prohibited from campaigning.
While some tickets did not campaign over the weekend per the rules, others continued campaigning as though the Court decision had never happened.
Student body presidential candidate Kyle Myers, who said his ticket also refrained from active campaigning over the weekend, said the confusion could cause serious damage to some campaigns. He called the weekend before elections “precious campaigning time” that some tickets lost by respecting the rules.
Kirkland said at the senate meeting that he has no intentions of assessing points for any actions taken over the weekend because there were communication issues relating to informing candidates of the Court’s decision.