The Palmer executive ticket will assume Undergraduate Student Government Tempe office despite losing the runoff election to the Fees ticket, which was disqualified after receiving 15 infraction points for violating campaign rules.
The Fees ticket — with Max Fees for president, Jack Fuller for vice president of policy and Emma Short for vice president of services — received 2,239 votes and the Palmer ticket received 1,895 votes in the runoff.
"I did not anticipate this happening, and I feel for the other ticket," said Jacqueline Palmer, president-elect and a junior studying political science, business law and marketing. "I'm excited to start; this has been my goal for a long time."
A complaint filed by the Palmer ticket — with Palmer for president, Kajol Kapadia for vice president of policy and Joshua Freid for vice president of services — alleged multiple violations of the elections code committed solely during the runoff campaign period.
Among the violations are promotion of election by a non-campaign staff member, proposal of damaging actions against an opponent by a non-campaign staff member and damage of campaign materials on social media.
The Elections Department issued three level-one infractions, garnering nine points, enough to disqualify the Fees ticket. Disqualification can only be done by the ASASU Supreme Court, who said the Fees ticket should receive infraction points based on two level-one violations and one level-three violation.
The court's opinion says Fuller, who used class time to talk about and advertise the election and his ticket without permission, violated the code. The opinion also says that while the teaching assistant of said class brought up the election, Fuller still violated the elections code and acknowledged his actions as such.
This incident happened not just with members of campaign staff but supporters as well. The court's decision says "campaign conduct within a classroom is very closely restricted. Only registered campaign staff and candidates are allowed to promote USG elections material within a classroom setting, and with prior authorization by the professor and elections commissioner."
During oral arguments of the case, the Fees ticket claimed they were not responsible for the actions of their supporters and could only control their immediate campaign staff.
The students' actions were still included in the violation, despite the court agreeing executive tickets are "not beholden to the actions of each and every one of their supporters." However, the student in question was a known member of a group chat "Max for Prez" and had direct communication with candidates.
The next violation includes the damage of campaign materials on social media. Evidence submitted to the court showed students in the group chat decided to post and like comments in favor of the Fees ticket on the public Tempe Barstool account.
Messages in the chat sent by official campaign staff were deemed to have malicious intent to "minimize Palmer's visibility on the Instagram post, causing injury," the opinion says.
The court subsequently disqualified the Fees ticket with 15 infraction points.
In a post from the Fees ticket, the team said they believed they had followed election rules properly and said the penalties given to their campaign were "a failure of reason and a failure to apply the election rules as written."
“The grounds don’t match the severity of the decision,” said Max Fees, a junior studying civic and economic thought and leadership. “The ruling was determined by probable harm and is an inappropriate use and function of the judicial system.”
Fees reiterated his campaign’s post, frustrated over the decision’s “continued effort to stop student First Amendment rights.”
“We are not accusing anyone of malice but the consequences should be considered by the dean of students,” Fees said.
“This is just the beginning of our movement,” Fees said. He said his team was “exploring all possible ways” to uplift student voice and improve campus events.
The post also relates their loss to what they call "a culture within student government that fails to respect freedom of speech of all kinds, and particularly the freedom of speech that demands greater transparency and accountability."
"I've never witnessed a disqualification," Palmer said. "But at the end of the day, they didn't refute anything we brought to the court."
Palmer said she's going to start her presidency slow to let students "cool off." She said after confirmation, her team will connect with clubs and coalitions to establish "goals, timelines and plans of action."
Editors Note: This story was updated to include a statement from Fees.
Piper Hansen is a digital managing editor at The State Press. She is a reporting intern at the Arizona Capitol Times. Outside the newsroom, you can find her backpacking in Kentucky or working at summer camp.