The Student Government Supreme Court is scheduled to be very busy Thursday night.
Last week’s student body presidential election will be on trial Thursday in front of the Court due to allegations that the Election Rules Commission has been showing bias throughout the election cycle.
The ERC oversees the student body elections. Its duties include certifying candidates, enforcing campaign rules and assessing points to tickets that violate campaigning policies.
Former SG senator Jen Wilson requested last week that the Court look into the possibility of a recall of the election, citing the possibility of bias in the ERC. She claimed that the ERC has been biased in favor of student body presidential candidate Frank Harrison and his running mate Faran Abbasi.
The Harrison/Abbasi ticket has been assessed eight points during the course of the election season. A ticket is disqualified once it receives 10 points from the ERC.
The Court could conceivably void last week’s election if it determines the ERC has not been properly performing its duties.
In that event, theoretically it would be as though the election never took place and the election season would start over. There is definitely uncertainty in SG as to what would happen if the election is recalled.
The Court will be holding a separate trial the same night to hear an appeal from student body presidential candidate Frank Harrison and his running mate Faran Abbasi for seven points assessed by the ERC.
According to Wilson, the ERC has not been properly investigating grievances filed against the Harrison/Abbasi ticket and has not been assessing as many points to the ticket as it should.
Wilson also put in her request for a trial a request for the Court to disqualify the Harrison/Abbasi ticket on the grounds that the ticket should have been assessed more points than it was.
Harrison said he feels the allegations are unfounded.
“I think it’s just a groundless attempt to get our ticket disqualified,” Harrison said. “Unfortunately this sort of thing happens every year.”
ERC Director Cindy Lorenzo could not be reached for comment.
According to SG Director David Armstrong, the Court shouldn’t even be holding this trial. He said that he feels an election can be called into question only when a candidate feels he or she was wrongly disqualified.
“It’s my opinion that they are misinterpreting the statutes to consider that they have some sort of power that they don’t,” Armstrong said. “They don’t have the ability to overturn the election results based on the non-assessment of points to a candidate, whether there was bias or not.”
The Harrison/Abbasi ticket is appealing seven of its eight points to the Court. The other point was already appealed to the Court and upheld.
Four of the points being appealed were assessed because Harrison’s grandparents were caught actively campaigning in the Library on Wednesday. Two of the four points were assessed because the grandparents were not registered campaign workers and thus were not allowed to actively campaign. The other two points were assessed because the grandparents were campaigning inside the Library, which is not allowed.
Harrison said when the points were first assessed that his grandparents chose to do the campaigning despite the protests of he and his parents.
The other three points the Harrison/Abbasi ticket is appealing were assessed because the ticket did not file the proper paperwork necessary when visiting a student organization. Harrison and Abbasi visited a meeting of the newly formed Ethos political party and did not get the organization’s president Michael Johnson to sign a form approving the visit in a timely manner.
Harrison said his ticket chose to appeal the points simply because they felt the points were wrongly assessed.
The Court won’t hear the point appeals until after the runoff is over.
Harrison said that if the election finishes and points assessed do not play a factor, he will drop the point appeals.
The Harrison/Abbasi ticket received the most votes – 1,422 – in last week’s election and will be on the ballot in the runoff election Tuesday and Wednesday against presidential candidate Ben Sens and his running mate Ernest “E.J.” Joe. The Sens/Joe ticket received 1,103 votes.