In a nation that prides itself on its Constitution, it is no wonder that the Student Government (SG) at the University of Miami has similar sentiments. Twice a year, the Elections Commission lives by and enforces Chapter IV of said constitution – Election Codes.
Including Wednesday’s postponement, the announcements of Executive Board election results have been delayed because of violations of these codes for the past two years.
“Elections themselves have become increasingly bitter and have essentially become two weeks of finger-pointing and acrimony,” said SG Chief Justice Sean Norris in a letter to the editor to The Miami Hurricane.
Most recently, in last week’s election, the Power of U and One of U tickets were taken to trials for actions of their campaigners.
A Power of U campaigner sent a mass email without approval by the Elections Commission, and a One of U campaigner violated the Student Code of Conduct. Power of U was given 5 points for their violation, while One of U was found not guilty.
Graphic campaigning violations were also filed against the Think B.I.G. ticket in the 2012 election, according to an article in The Miami Hurricane in February 2012. The presence of campaigning materials near polling sites and at a sporting event resulted in the accumulation of 19 points, nearly disqualifying the ticket.
During the same election, Think B.I.G. filed a violation against the Inspired by U ticket for allegedly using the SG office as a meeting space.
This Court found there to be no violation on the part of Inspired by U, and no points were given.
The punishment for infractions is the allocation of up to 20 points based on the severity of each infraction. The accumulation of 20 or more points results in the immediate disqualification of a ticket. Any points allocated to individual candidates within or associated with a ticket are charged to the ticket as a whole.
In 2011, the election code violations that were filed did not affect the race.
The year before, the candidates for president and treasurer of the UFirst and Best U Ever Had tickets were subject to a runoff election because neither candidate received sufficient votes. In order to secure a position, the candidate must receive 50 percent plus one of the votes cast.
During the runoff election, Christina Farmer and Nick Cote received 65 and 58 percent of the votes to win the president and treasurer titles, respectively.
Lionel Moise ran unopposed for SG president in 2009. While voter turnout was at an unprecedented low, there were no violations.
Three tickets vied for seats on the Executive Board in 2008. After the general election, Make It Happen For U presidential candidate Dan Lazaro was dropped from the race and began endorsing All About U presidential candidate Jeremy Crystal.
The results of the runoff election between Crystal and Committed to U presidential candidate Brandon Gross were further delayed because of election code violations.
Gross received 15 points because Sebastian the Ibis and two other campaigners were wearing “Committed to U” shirts on the Rock. Lazaro was in danger of receiving 20 points for not turning in his financial report; however, the Court found that the report was not needed because Lazaro had not exhausted additional funds.
Although these infractions tend to fuel the flame of SG drama, Elections Commissioner J. Alexander Barletto encourages students to report infractions in order to protect their voice.
“Violations have always existed,” he said. “If we didn’t have these codes or we had weaker codes, there would be no free and open democracy. Student Government would lose its credibility and its integrity.”
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