Trial begins to appeal Miss FAMU race

Since Amanda Byrd’s election as Miss FAMU, a court trial has come about stating that she was assessed enough demerit points before the election to be disqualified.

The trial, Scarlett Williams vs. Electoral Commission, was held April 7 in the Embassy Room. Vincent Evans, counsel to Williams, said he had been asking for an appeal since Feb. 29, which was 39 days.

“The time is always right to do right,” Evans said in his opening remarks.

Evans said Williams requested in the appeal to have Byrd retroactively withdrawn because of the amount of points assessed for violations of the elections rules and procedures.

According to the new points system approved by the Electoral Commission and Student Senate, a violation occurs if campaign materials are seen anywhere within the 50-foot mark of a voting precinct on voting day. Each violation is 35 points. Once 50 points are reached, the candidate stands a chance for disqualification.

Evans said Byrd had two counts of violation regarding the 50-foot range violation. This equals 70 points.

Evans went on to explain that the reason for the appeal against the Electoral Commission is because the commission did not do its job.

“The basis is because the E.C. has failed to follow the Student Body Constitution and the rules and procedures it’s governed by,” he said. “They didn’t assess the points right.”

In the Electoral Commission’s defense, Attorney General Dominique Bercy said in her opening remarks that she would prove that the Electoral Commission did do its job correctly and followed the rules and procedures.

While the plaintiff presented six witnesses, the defense presented three.

Evans presented to the court several memos of violation on the opposing ticket’s behalf. According to witnesses, some of Byrd’s campaign members were campaigning within the 50-foot line of two precincts: one located at the new pharmacy building and the other at Dyson pharmacy.

Bercy said while the plaintiff did present information saying that the Electoral Commission did not assess points, there was a reason why they were never assessed.

Bercy said since all of the precincts were not labeled correctly on each precinct entrance, the Electoral Commission disregarded the 50-foot violation for one day. That day was February 26.

“Almost every candidate had that (50-foot violation) problem,” Bercy said. “Scarlett feels it was not fair.”

Bercy said if the Electoral Commission assessed those points for Byrd, everyone else would be assessed points as well because the precinct entrances were not labeled right.

“You can’t just disqualify one person,” she said. “You can’t just forget one person. Keep in mind that Scarlett and Byrd were not the only candidates for Miss FAMU, there was also Denishia Yearby.”

The verdict was not released at press time and will be posted online.

“Rather Miss Williams wins her case or not, the system is broken,” Evans said. “They (E.C.) are voting one way in the fall and in the spring they vote different.”