Four candidates in this semester’s spring elections will have their day in court next week.
Per Section A of Chapter 604 of the Student Body Constitution, John Williams, Charles Manchion, Bianca Fletcher and Chante Sessomes each filed letters of appeal contesting the results within 24 hours after the results were announced.
As a result, they will each have appeal hearings before the Student Supreme Court Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on why their individual races should be overturned.
According to statute 604 section C-1 of the FAMU Student Body Constitution, for candidates appealing an Electoral Commission decision: “The Supreme Court shall determine whether the Election Commission’s decision was incorrect, procedurally or substantively. It may uphold, overturn or change the Electoral Commission’s decision.”
Statute 605.2 Section A states that if the race is invalidated by the Supreme Court, only qualified candidates who ran in the primary election, including write-in candidates, will be placed on the new election ballot.
Per the constitution, a new or special election must be held at least five business days following the adjudication process.
Williams, an agri-business student from Baconton, Ga., filed his appeal after the Electoral Commission announced he would be involved in a runoff race for Mr. FAMU with Jeremy Monticure but rescinded the announcement the next day.
Electoral Commissioner Darien Moses blamed the announcement on a computing error because Monticure received more than 50 percent of the votes in that race.
Election code 600.6 states, “If no candidate in any race achieves a majority (50 plus one) vote, a Run-off Election shall be held.”
Moses said when the commission discovered the error the next day it notified Williams that he would no longer be in the runoff.
Williams said he hopes he will get a chance to hit the campaign trail again soon and have the student body decide who will be Mr. FAMU once and for all.
“My ultimate goal was really a runoff,” he said. “The fact that it (the appeal) did go through means there are others who do agree with me so I’m excited about it.” Another former candidate who will plead his case is Charles Manchion, a sophomore senator who was seeking re-election. Manchion, a write-in candidate for junior senator, was not re-elected. He had not planned to contest the election until many of his classmates told the senate they were unaware of how to vote for him.
“They assumed that just because I was the only write-in candidate they just had to bubble next to my name,” said Manchion, a 20-year-old political science student from Cincinnati. “That presented a problem because in order to get the vote I had to actually be written in.”
Some students received instruction sheets in their folders on how to vote for a write-in candidate but some folders did not have those sheets.
Manchion said the race is no longer about winning or losing, but about making sure the voices of the sophomores are heard.
“I would be perfectly fine losing as a write-in,” he said. “I at least wanted to give the people who wanted to vote on my behalf a chance to do so without any discrepancy.”
The Supreme Court will also hear arguments in regards to the junior attendant race.
Bianca Fletcher and Chante Sessomes filed appeals after the Feb. 28 senate meeting.
Fletcher, a 19-year-old public relations student from Kansas City, Ks. called the election faulty, saying, “The numbers just don’t add up.”
Fletcher said she is excited to get the chance for an appeal hearing because she knows some people were not as fortunate, and hopes the justices will take into account what supporters have to say.
“I hope that the judges have an open mind and really hear out what the witnesses are saying,” Fletcher said.
Sessomes, a business administration and marketing student from Baltimore, Md. is hoping for similar consideration from the Supreme Court.
She filed an appeal after she was told her name was omitted on several sophomore class ballots.
Despite the complaints, Electoral Commissioner Darien Moses says the election was fair and just, and he has complete confidence in his commission.
Regardless of Moses’ reassurances, some students are still calling for new elections.
Fletcher said more than anything, she just wants the truth.
“I’m just looking for justice,” she said. “It wasn’t a fair race and something needs to be done about it.”
Supreme Court Justice Kendra Rich and Junior Attendant candidate Chante Sessomes were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.