Election feud goes above SGA officials

The special election set for Friday is off – for now.

The revote was scheduled after the Student Body Supreme Court ruled that points assessed for the use of unapproved campaign material, overturning the student election of Gallop Franklin and Calvin Hayes.      

But according to a memo sent Monday from Dean of Student Affairs Henry Kirby to Senate President Ricquel Jackson, nothing can be done until Florida A&M University’s administration makes a decision.

“No action can be taken at this point by the Student Senate regarding the special election until the appeals have been heard by the vice president for student affairs (Roland Gaines) pursuant to the SGA Constitution and Statutes,” the one-page memo states. 

Both the Franklin/Hayes ticket and the electoral commission filed appeals to the university Administration claiming the decision to overturn the election results was unreasonable and unethical.

“Calvin and I were retroactively disqualified because of a 2-by-6 banner located on M.L.K Boulevard…no one knew that [the land] was FAMU’s,” said Gallop Franklin, student body president-elect. “Whether it was FAMU’s property or not the banner did not impact the outcome of the election as defined in the student body statutes because it was a minor violation.”

According to minutes from a Feb.24 meeting of the electoral commission, a death certificate was brought in as evidence that the property was left to FAMU. According to the Leon County Property Appraiser’s records, the land is being leased to the school.

“At the time of the elections, the university did not have any concrete knowledge or evidence that the property the stake sat on was university property,” said Corean Shelton, electoral commissioner. “How could the Henderson and Batie ticket know this for certain?”

The Mario Henderson/Rontel Batie ticket first filed an appeal on March 1, claiming the Franklin/Hayes ticket violated several rules and the electoral commission did not assess proper violation points.

“If the electoral committee did what they were suppose to do in the first place, Franklin and Hayes would have never been elected…a memo was sent 24 hours before election day revealing all these things to the commission,” said Mario Henderson, a 2009-2010 presidential candidate. “Everyone has the right to appeal injustice…we are just exercising that right.”

Shelton said both tickets presented evidence related to the claim.

“Both the Henderson and Batie and Franklin and Hayes tickets submitted evidence to validate their appeals and claims. Their arguments brought confusion and the commission voted a few times whether or not to assess points to the Franklin & Hayes ticket,” Shelton said. “After speaking with property appraisers and lawyers it was agreed these issues would be tabled and no assessment would take place until further research had been conducted.”

The Henderson/Batie ticket filed a second appeal on March 25.

“The commission has the attitude of being fed up with appeals and special elections…no one forced these people to take office,” said Vincent Evans, legal counsel for the Henderson/Batie ticket. “Its unfortunate that this has to take place…justice has to be served.”

But Shelton is unconvinced that justice is being served since, she argued, the proper appeals procedures were not followed.

“The second appeal was outside of the time period identified by the student body statutes. It should have been done by March 18,” Shelton said. “The court ruled that a trial would commence on April 1, the Henderson and Batie ticket verbally retracted their request for a trial then changed their mind on April 4.”

The Student Body Constitution Article V. Section 6B. states that a trial must be held three days after the filing of the appeal for election disputes. 

“The time period in which the pretrial and trial were held was not done according to procedure,” Shelton said.

“The Student Body Supreme Court is acting as the electoral commission,” Shelton said.  “We never disqualified Franklin and Hayes,”.

But Chief Justice Magalie Yacinthe stands by the court’s action.

“Ignorance to law doesn’t excuse you from the law. As far as I’m concerned he’s disqualified,” said Yacinthe, who was chief justice when the Franklin/Ardis appeal was denied in last year’s student body presidential election.