ASASU court decides seat distribution, participants of USGT senatorial runoff

ASASU Supreme Court sides with multiple plaintiffs in its third case filed against the Elections Department this cycle

The Supreme Court of Associated Students of ASU decided the number of senatorial seats for Barrett, The Honors College, the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and said representatives for The College would be announced with the rest of the runoff results in a decision rendered Monday. 

Despite what the Elections Department tried to decide, the court said Barrett should have three seats, the Fulton Schools of Engineering will have five and The College will have four. 

In addition, the court said representatives from Barrett and Fulton Schools of Engineering should be based on results from last week's elections, meaning the following are senator-elects for their respective schools: Katherine Hostal, Cameron Decker and Megan Hall for Barrett; Nathaniel Anbar, Richard Reithal, Zachary Snider, Fabian Sanchez-Suarez and Jason Tinti for the Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The court said Robert's Rules of Order, precedent within Undergraduate Student Government, were not followed in regards to retroactive decision making, nullifying the decision to host a runoff for three colleges. 

In their decision, the court writes "undue harm would be sustained to Fulton and Barrett," due to lower turnout and a reduced campaigning period. 

While the plaintiffs asked the Elections Department's decision be void, precedent set by the Robinson v. Elections Department prescribes a runoff for candidates hoping to represent The College. 

Students might see their college listed on the runoff ballot even though the court decided only The College would partake. The Elections Department explained the online ballot is based on what schools a student is a part of, rather than who's running and who's not running. 

The computer system makes sure students can only vote in live elections, even though they might see the names of completed elections for other schools they're in. 

For example, a student part of the W. P. Carey School of Business and Barrett would still see both schools listed, but once they click to vote, the only candidates visible should be those in the executive ticket runoff. Two State Press staffers in Barrett confirmed this was the case, and an outside source in Fulton said the same.

Cameron Decker, a Barrett senator-elect and a freshman studying business and civic and economic thought and leadership, brought the case to the Supreme Court. He said if he were not a senator-elect and had not participated in the case, he would have not known about the change. 

"Confusion spreads a lot faster than the facts," Decker said, highlighting this year's chaos and fast-paced election cycle. 

Decker revealed there had been no communication from the Elections Department about the runoff or who would be participating before or after Monday's hearing. 

Aside from making remarks about individual seats, the court advised future seat changes come through in the Undergraduate Student Government Tempe bylaws and asked the Elections Department to correct future negligence and "wrong-doings in a timely, just, and fair manner, so as to prevent large-scale disruptions."

A large part of the oral arguments heard Monday was a construction of what unfolded the day results were announced. According to testimony, the Elections Commissioner was made aware of a possible improper seat allocation in February but upon investigation, found the number they had predetermined was correct. 

On the first day of voting in April, the same complaint was brought to the Elections Department's attention. Using University 21st Day data, they determined that the seat allocation was incorrect for three colleges. 

Senatorial candidates from the colleges were made aware of the error in a Zoom conference hours before results were to be announced. The Elections Department said the candidates would go into a runoff election with the executive ticket candidates.

The case, brought forward by Decker, along with eight others, said the Elections Department's decision to hold a runoff for three colleges is unjust, caused injury and was not under their purview.

While one candidate was left off the ballot, setting a precedent for a runoff election, Decker said the choice should not necessarily be left up to the Elections Department. 

"It was an incredibly inequitable decision," Decker said of the Elections Department's action before the case was heard Monday. 

Decker said the decision put the student body and the candidates in a difficult position, exuding untrustworthy pretenses toward the Elections Department as a whole. 

"It is not a great situation for anyone, but this could have been fixed months ago," Decker said. 

ASASU Assistant Director Elizabeth Rosenkrantz said during the hearing she is looking to change the Elections Department's processes and procedures.

"I know that this error and process has truly caused frustration and stress and lack of trust," Rosenkrantz said during the hearing. "Ultimately, I really do want to apologize for the pain and frustration this has caused the candidates. I'm really looking forward to figuring out steps so that this never occurs again."

The runoff election results will be announced Wednesday. Winners from the executive race of the Palmer ticket versus the Fees ticket and the five representatives for The College will be announced via Zoom. 

State Press reporter Erin Galindo contributed to this article. 


Reach the reporters at pjhanse1@asu.edu and follow @piperjhansen on Twitter. 

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