Con Council overturns Senate disqualifications
Student Union’s Constitutional Council has chosen to reverse freshman Election Commissioner Steven Kish’s decision to disqualify two SU Senate candidates—freshmen Nathan Card and Mia Hamernik—in an opinion released Friday.
Kish decided to disqualify Card and Hamernik based on violations of Election Campaign rule 11, which states: “Any fraudulent activity of any kind shall result in immediate disqualification of the offending candidate. This clause includes any activity on the part of one candidate to discredit or incriminate another candidate or to in any way circumvent the spirit of the election.”
Kish believed Card to be in violation of the rule for sending screenshots regarding former fellow candidate freshman Gregg Adams to Student Life and encouraging Hamernik to submit an op-ed about Adams to the newspaper.
Hamernik, meanwhile, asked freshman Elijah Pena to release screenshots to Student Life, which was also considered an effort to discredit another candidate.
The majority opinion of Constitutional Council recognized that rule 11 had not been formally approved by SU, with members saying they saw Kish’s interpretation of the rule to be flawed.
The rule uses the phrase, “fraudulent activity,” which the council thought to be inapplicable in the cases of Card and Hamernik. While the council agrees that Card and Hamernik took action to discredit another candidate, they found no proof that any activity on part of the candidates could be considered “fraudulent.”
With no council members dissenting, Constitutional Council overturned Kish’s decision.
“I’m very glad that Constitutional Council ruled the way they did,” Card said. “I think the fact that there were no dissenting justices, coupled with the speed with which the decision was released, basically [indicates] that members of our highest judicial body were largely in agreement about what to do with this case.”
Kish stands by Constitutional Council’s decision and has plans to create an election commission in the near future to avoid similar complications.
“I definitely recognize that in that time-sensitive scenario, my decision, or any one person’s decision, isn’t going to be perfect,” Kish said. “Moving forward, my first priority is creating an election commission. I want to take a deeper look at this rule and several others that can definitely be seen as vague, and I think I’ve seen a lot during these two elections of what the nuances in the rules should be. So, I think we’re prepared to make some really positive changes.”
Junior Brian Adler, a third-term senator, thinks there needs to be more clarity in election rules to prevent similar situations in the future.
“Election rules haven’t always been crystal clear,” Adler said. “You need to have really clear examples of what is and isn’t allowed.”
Hamernik declined to comment.
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Elijah Pena was not a candidate for election.