Election appeals unsuccessful with Student Supreme Court

The Student Supreme Court denied two appeals asking for revotes in the SGA president and vice president and electoral commissioner offices.

The appeals were filed after Birdette Hughey and Robert Watson, president and vice president hopefuls, and electoral commissioner candidate Marcus Sandifer said the Electoral Commission violated several stipulations in the Electoral Codes.

“Procedures used to conduct elections are the lifeblood of any organization. If procedures are contaminated, the organization will die. The election procedures were contaminated,” said Bryan Carter, representing Hughey and Watson.

Carter contested that Hughey and Watson could have lost potential votes because of long lines and several precincts that did not open at 9 a.m.

“The lines were really long,” said Jade Ellison, a freshman business administration student. “I saw people come in and turn around and walk out because they saw the long lines.”

Deputy Electoral Commissioner Evin Prather said that long lines were inevitable.

“During the day it gets crowded because that’s when a lot of students vote. You have to find the student’s name in an alphabetical list and some students don’t know their classifications, so that slows the process. It’s not a lot we can do about it.”

Witnesses also testified that precinct supervisors failed to enforce a code prohibiting campaigning and all campaigning materials within 50 ft. of the precinct.

“I saw people with campaign materials inside. It could have been accidental but no one watched to make sure materials were concealed,” said Melanie Middleton, a senior business administration student.

Middleton added that voters could have been swayed as a result of campaign materials inside the precinct.

“It could have influenced some voters. That’s why they campaign outside precincts. They want to influence that last-minute voter, who hasn’t made up their mind yet.”

Ayo Suber and Adrian Smith, two business students, testified that they were initially turned away at the polls because their names were not included on the registration lists that have to be signed by each student before voting.

The Registrar’s Office issues 12 lists, according to each school or college, of students enrolled in the university. Precinct supervisors cannot allow any student to vote whose name does not appear on the list. Students’ names that do not appear on the lists must present precinct supervisors with a current class schedule, proving they are enrolled during the semester of an election. All students must provide a picture ID for confirmation.

Suber and Smith both said that providing schedule printouts was an inconvenience to them. However, Michael James, a university registrar, said that students who do not appear on the list, may not have paid their tuition fees.

“We deactivate students for non-payment of fees. That means that they are not included on the official list of students enrolled,” James said. ìWe allow reinstatement, so a student who is not listed, is in a cancellation status. It is the job of the student to secure additional documentation to reflect enrollment.”

Sandifer said he appealed his case because the Electoral Commission listed the names of the electoral commissioner candidates in the wrong order. According to chapter 602.4, “candidates shall be listed in alphabetical order, based on last name.”

Sandifer’s name should have been listed after his only opponent, Michael Lipford but was the first name on the ballot. He said that mistake cost him the election.

“I’m sure it was a minor mistake, but it had major consequences,” Sandifer said. “I told a group of students at the presidential debate and said, ‘Save the best for line.’ If people could remember the slogan, they could remember my name.

“If Michael Lipford had lost by only 19 votes, then he would be standing here pleading his case.”