The Supreme Court of the Student Government (SG), which is responsible for hearing and deciding all campaign violations that occur during elections, heard three violations on Monday, Feb. 27.
The first violation charged the “Putting You First” ticket with breaking chapter IV, section 5-2, clause three of the statutes in the SG Constitution, which refers to the boundaries for graphic and verbal campaigning. Martin Cruz-Mesa, chair of the Elections Commission, witnessed Kingshook De, a vice-presidential candidate, handing a campaign shirt to someone sitting at a table by the UC Rock.
The person that received the shirt was a member of the “Putting You First” ticket. Despite the fact that De was handing a shirt to someone that was a part of his ticket, the court decided that the incident was still considered campaigning.
The usual penalty for this violation is 20 points deducted from the entire ticket. However, the court decided that because of the unintentional nature, the sanction would be reduced to 10 points.
“The court believes signs should be placed on all of the boundaries to make it clear, and not leave it up to possible misinterpretations,” Louis Ng, associate justice, wrote in his opinion of the court.
Another violation was brought against the ticket for De’s walking into the Smith-Tucker Involvement Center (STIC) with his campaign shirt on.
According to Chief Justice Kelly Calisto, the ticket was penalized two points for the violation that can be charged up to five points.
The third violation was brought against “Make Life Easer” for a similar shirt violation in the STIC.
An Elections Commissioner saw Jackie Collazo walk into the STIC with a binder covering the front of her campaign shirt. When she was asked to see the back of her shirt, she promptly left. The Elections Commissioner did not inform Collazo that she was witnessed in violation of the statute.
The court charged the ticket with a five-point penalty for the violation.
An appeal was filed by the ticket and was heard by the court on Tuesday, Feb. 28.
Collazo was present to testify at the appeal and claimed that she wasn’t consciously covering her shirt with her binder, therefore breaching the statute unintentionally.
Steven Lang, campaign manager for “Make Life Easier,” asked the court to reduce the penalty.
“We appealed because we thought the court was unfair in their ruling and they should be consistent,” Lang said.
The court decided to reduce the penalty to two points against the ticket.
The allocation of points is left to the discretion of the Court depending on whether the situation clearly violates the statute or if there could be an exception as well as the intent of the individual that was responsible for the violation. Also, the decisions vary depending on who is sitting on the bench at the time of the hearing.
Stacey Arnold can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org