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SG tickets remain in election race after undergoing code violation trials

“Think B.I.G.” candidates juniors Emily Stanch and Parker Barnett wait to hear the verdict on accusations against “Inspired by U.” The trials ran until about 11:30 p.m. Thursday night and neither team was disqualified from the race. Cayla Nimmo // Assistant Photo Editor

Student Government (SG) election results will be announced Friday at noon on the Rock after the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that neither “Think B.I.G.” or “Inspired by U” would be disqualified from the race.

The two tickets went to trial after being told Wednesday that they were being investigated for allegedly violating election codes. Consequently, the results of the election, which were to be announced Wednesday afternoon, were postponed.

During the first trial Thursday evening, “Think B.I.G.” was given 18 points, in addition to the one point issued during a Tuesday night trial. The trial Thursday addressed the section of the election code that prohibits graphic campaigning in the University Center areas surrounding the polling booths.

Ryan Aquilina, who filed the violation on behalf of “Inspired by U,” presented photographs of students wearing red shirts surrounding the election commission’s computers. Aquilina alleged that at least six students had worn their “Think B.I.G” shirts while either voting or standing near other students who were voting.

However, not all the pictures presented as evidence were validated.

“We didn’t go into that thinking we weren’t going to get points,” said Parker Barnett, presidential candidate on the “Think B.I.G.” ticket. “What we did was a violation.”

Still, Barnett thought that being disqualified would have undermined the election process.

Associate Chief Justice Sean Norris said that, in both trials, the court looked at precedent and determined the severity of the case based on the number of times the violation took place.

“We wanted to send a message that what happened certainly affects the elections, but it was not serious enough to warrant disqualification,” Norris said.

After, “Inspired by U” was brought to trial for allegedly using a UC office – specifically the Student Government office – as a campaign base. In a unanimous decision by the court, “Inspired by U” was found not to have committed a violation. Zero points were issued.

The incident in discussion involved a meeting in the SG office Tuesday that was called by SG Press Secretary Mike Piacentino to discuss trial procedures with court members before the first trial involved “Think B.I.G.”

Norris sat out during the deliberation after the second trial because he was present during the gathering in the SG office Tuesday night.

Piacentino and his witnesses testified that no campaign-related discussions occurred. “Inspired by U” also presented evidence of all times that campaign meetings were called, using screenshots of text messages and photocopies of presidential candidate Nawara Alawa’s own personal planner.

“We’re happy we had zero points against us,” said Caitlin Giles, “Inspired by U” vice presidential candidate. “We’re clean. Our motto is ‘stay classy’ and we did.”

Barnett said that “Think B.I.G.” chose not to withdraw the allegations against “Inspired by U” because they did not file on a whim.

Although Barnett filed the case against “Inspired by U,” the matter was brought to his attention by a Supreme Court justice who wishes to remain nameless.

“We think that there’s a valid point when a justice on the court thinks there’s something wrong,” Barnett said

Kenneth Esman, candidate for treasurer on the “Inspired by U” ticket, acknowledges this.

“The tickets have a right to a trial if they feel there is a breach in the code,” Esman said.

The members of the Supreme Court did not wish to comment on the trials’ outcomes. Opinions of the Court will be available by Monday at 5 p.m.

Because neither ticket was disqualified, the winning ticket will be announced Friday at noon based on the students’ votes which were cast Monday through Wednesday.

“We are glad that student’s voices were heard because the votes matter,” Esman said.

Barnett agreed.

“Neither ‘Think B.I.G.’ nor ‘Inspired by U’ wanted to drag this out, and we’re excited to hear what the students voted on,” Barnett said.

February 24, 2012

Reporters

Lyssa Goldberg

Lyssa Goldberg is online editor of The Miami Hurricane. She is a senior majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in math. She has interned at Mashable and the Miami New Times, and her work has also been featured in The Huffington Post.


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