In response to allegations that Tuesday’s SGA election was not handled properly, Virgil Miller called an emergency town hall meeting in the Senate Chambers on Thursday.
Miller, 23, a graduate student in the public health program, said he called the meeting after he received phone calls from Interim President Castell V. Bryant and Vice President of Student Affairs Patricia Green-Powell. He said both Bryant and Green-Powell had expressed concern about a possible demonstration by students in protest of the recent election.
Earlier on Thursday, members of NAACP were supposed to stage a march in protest of the alleged inequities of the elections, but were unable to because they did not follow proper University procedure for holding a demonstration.
According to the 2004 – 2007 version of The Fang, the FAMU student handbook, states that campus organizations must notify the Director of Student Activities 24 hours before holding demonstrations and protest meetings on campus.
The president of the FAMU chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Adrienne Rogers, a fourth-year business student from Charolette, N.C., fielded questions about the organization’s demand for an investigation of the spring elections.
Rogers said the NAACP was not contesting one race but the entire process between Tuesday and Thursday.
“As a student leader, I must address these allegations,” Rogers said at the meeting.
Miller said Bryant and Green-Powell were also concerned about the possible negative effects of the election. He said the University could not stand any more bad press.
“We’re trying to be proactive and stay in front of the issues and keep them in-house,” Miller said.
At the meeting, Miller said the election results are final, for now, adding that there has been a request from the Electoral Commission to invalidate the elections.
“There has not been an invalidation of campus elections. That power lies in the Judicial Branch of the Student Government Association,” Miller explained to the filled room. “That power is given to them by the Student Body Constitution of Statues.”
Jason Hurst, chief justice for the Student Supreme Court, confirmed that the Electoral Commission has filed an appeal about injustices by the Electoral Commission.
“There were 14 counts that were put on my desk earlier today alleging that an official with the University violated some ideas,” Hurst said.
Ranaldo Allen, the acting chair of the Elections and Appointments Committee for the Student Senate, said that it is rare for the Electoral Commission to appeal an election.
“As a whole, the commission felt that there was administrative interference with the election that tainted the results of this election,” said Allen, a fourth-year business administration student.
Rogers said the NAACP’s demand for an investigation includes the security of the ballots before, during and after the elections.
“We need to make sure that security of ballots was kept in integrity and not compromised at any step,” Rogers said.
Hurst said there has been no decision made to hear the Electoral Commission’s case yet and that the Judicial Branch has met only briefly to discuss the appeal.
“If we decide to hear (the case), the process will begin (Friday),” Hurst explained.
“We’ve been asked to invalidate one part of the election, which is the presidential election,” Hurst said. “But what would happen is we would start the election process over again. We’d have to do dead week again and campaign week again. There’s no way we could only do one particular ticket.”
At the meeting, Miller explained how the ballot counting process works.
“If everything is running correctly, when you as a voter put your ballot in the machine, the machine not only counts the ballot that was cast, but it also counts the number for the individual tickets,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, the machine prints out a ticket of all the actual ballots that were cast and number of votes each ticket got.”
Hurst added that the only physical counting that is done is for write-in candidates.
While it appears that the machines should eliminate ballot discrepancies, Miller admitted that there were some problems with the machines.
According to some students, Miller is right.
“When I went to the polls in Tucker Hall at 9:30 a.m. I handed my ballot to one of the poll workers because the machine was not functioning properly,” said Nyerere Davidson, who was also a candidate for junior senator.
“I am not sure if my, or anyone else’s, ballot was counted.”
Hurst said the recurring problems with this election may lie within the governing documents.
“Law isn’t perfect, that’s why we have these issues,” Hurst said.
Hurst said that if there is a trial about this issue, it will be Wednesday.
Contact Alexia R. Robinson at firstname.lastname@example.org.