By: Beraiah Baker
During a Florida A&M University student senate meeting, senators were urged by a concerned student to seek a ruling from the Supreme Court. The students concerns regarded the voting procedures practiced at the College of Law precinct during the Spring 2016 election, with special regards the to Student Government Association President and Vice-President race.
Victor Crispin, SGA presidential candidate, and his running mate Pernell Mitchell wrote memorandums requesting that the Supreme Court hear their trial with the evidence provided per the student statutes.
There were two crucial details that caused concern for the Crispin/Mitchell ticket after the results were announced. The College of Law had no precinct supervisor or representation from an official member of the Electoral Commission during voting exercises. Voter data was also collected incorrectly at the College of Law which is against student statutes. On the voter roll that was sent back to the Electoral Commission, signatures were not used instead there were x’s and checkmarks next to names. Crispin, Mitchell, and the Electoral Commission are seeking a special election or re-vote of the College of Law as well as the main campus.
Chief Justice of the student Supreme Court Tawn Tyba-Takeli called all necessary parties for a pre-trial hearing Feb. 26 in the FAMU Embassy Room. Supreme Court council asked the Electoral Commission what the significance of including the main campus in the re-election process was, since their evidence only shows foul play at the law school.
“The Electoral Commissions’ mission is to be just and fair, so to be just and fair I think that goes across the board at all campus precincts and not just one precinct,” said Electoral Commissioner Anthony Cooper. “This also eliminates the chances of another ticket saying they won on this campus so they should be pronounced the winner.”
As student senators, Crispin and Mitchell are not strangers to the election code and the election processes. Crispin assures he and his running mate are not approaching this issue from a “sore loser” view, but from an ethical standpoint.
“My issue wasn’t the results, my issue was just the integrity of the election.” Crispin said.
The College of Law’s votes were the determining factor of the presidential race. Crispin and Mitchell had seven votes from the law school compared to Bruno and Harrison’s 156 votes. In total, the votes came out to Crispin and Mitchell receiving 1,217 votes to Bruno and Harrison’s 1,366 votes. Without the College of Law’s votes the Bruno/Harrison ticket narrowly wins by by three votes.
At the pre-trial, Chief Justice Takeli also asked Commissioner Cooper how the voting at the law school precinct directly affected the overall integrity of the race?
Cooper expressed that he couldn’t exactly say that it affected the overall integrity of the race because that would be calling someone fraudulent and that is not in this case.
There are several factors that could cause the General Council to deny the claim or opt for a re-election of only the tampered precinct since student body statutes don’t specifically rule against it. Funding an entirely new election, funding precinct supervisor’s salaries for another campus wide election and budgeting to send proper representation to the law school are just a few to name. Not to mention, a re-election of the main campus could pose severe backlash from the student body as a whole.
Current SGA President elect Justin Bruno doesn’t think the entire student body should be faulted for the College of Law.
“I don’t think its fair to the students. If there concerns are at the law school I think they need to be more extensively addressed with the law school,” Bruno said. “If they are accusing someone of doing something or saying that something happened there should be some attempt to figure that out before moving on to a new election.”
If the General Council agrees to a new campus wide election they would eliminate the declaration of candidacy and the candidates debate from the week shortening the campaign exercises per the Electoral Commission
A final verdict from the General Council is expected within 10 days.