The Associated Students Judicial Court announced that elections won’t be held again for two at-large senatorial positions despite complaints and appeals after a closed session meeting on Monday evening at the A.S. Central Office.
Members of the judicial court said it’d needlessly exhaust A.S. fee revenue, that students pay every semester, to hold an election for the two disputed at large senatorial positions.
After the announcement, A.S. President Adam Haverstock said the expense entailed with holding another election, even for only a couple of disputed senatorial seats, would be the same amount spent on the initial election.
Marco Zamora, who ran for one of two at large senatorial positions earlier this month, initially filed a complaint to the elections committee asking that the elections be held again. Zamora alleged there was confusion in regard to the format of the ballot.
When the request was denied during an A.S.-conducted hearing on Nov. 19, Zamora filed an appeal.
The A.S. Judicial Court, which is headed by Vista Ezzati, chief justice for the court, listened to both sides of the issue from Zamora, A.S. Attorney General Hal Ellison and witnesses they had invited to the meeting.
Until the Spring 2005 semester, at large senatorial positions were divided into upper and lower division designations, and students voted for two candidates per division.
Haverstock said, “They thought that by removing the stipulation that you had to have a specific class standing to qualify to be a senator in certain seats, you could have more senators in a senate at any given time and therefore, having more people in the senate makes it more practical and more functional.”
Ellison provided the court with copies of the disputed ballots from the last 10 semesters.
Even when at-large senatorial seats were divided into upper and lower division designations, the ballots have always directed voters to choose two candidates for the positions, Ellison said.
“There’s a long history of A.S. voting for two senators in one category,” Ellison said.
During the Fall 2006 elections, there was a mistake on the ballot, and students were instructed to vote for one candidate for each seat, Ellison said.
“The elections committee was made aware of this problem, and they corrected it,” Ellison said.
Zamora said it’s not stated in the code of elections whether it’s mandatory for the ballot to be printed in such a manner.
“We had the assumption that we were running for two different seats because we had the seat number right next to the name,” Zamora said.
Ellison said all candidates were given a filing packet, a candidate packet, and attended mandatory candidate meetings that explained campaigning and election procedures, though the specifics of the at-large senatorial seat numbers weren’t discussed before the election.
Ellison said holding another election may have been possible had Zamora filed a complaint the first day of the elections.
“The elections committee is on alert the entire two days (of the elections), knowing that they may have to meet at a moment’s notice in case something like this does come up so that they can handle it immediately, to make sure the right course of action is taken,” Ellison said.
Zamora said, “We’re all students and we’re all busy with different things, and I just got caught up with different things. I guess it just slipped our minds to even write that complaint.”
Ellison said, “If I was running for a position and I felt this strongly about getting the position, I would have looked at the ballot on the first day, or I would have made sure that the people in my slate saw the ballot on the first day. Then I would have brought that to the attention of the elections committee immediately, as soon as I saw that there was a chance that I thought I was running against a person in my slate that I didn’t realize I was running against.”
After deliberations behind closed doors, the judicial court decided another election wasn’t necessary, and since the elections code doesn’t specify a mandatory standard, the elections committee and director of elections made their decision based on precedence.
The decision stated, “The judicial Court does feel that the Elections Code should be revised to be more specific in regards to the creation of Filing Applications, and we agree that they should strike numerical seat designations in selected documents.”
The court also ruled that the elections code should require ballots to be reviewed by all candidates.