The Undergraduate Students Association Council Judicial Board conducted a hearing Friday on a petition that claimed the election board’s decision to disqualify a candidate violated his right to an equal opportunity to run.
John Ulysses Keevan-Lynch, an undeclared second-year student, filed a petition Tuesday arguing the USAC Election Board’s decision to disqualify Justin Jackson from this year’s USAC election was a violation of the election code’s equal protection clause.
The election board disqualified Jackson, who currently serves as general representative 3, after he submitted his candidate application 13 minutes after the April 6 noon deadline, said Jack Price, election board chair.
Keevan-Lynch opened saying Jackson was not able to complete his application on time because of a number of mistakes made by the election board, including unnecessarily requesting that Jackson submit a class syllabus for leaving the candidate orientation early.
The USAC Election Code states candidates are given an excused absence for an unavoidable academic conflict when a syllabus is provided.
Jackson, who testified as the petitioner’s witness, said the election code does not state candidates are required to stay at candidate orientation for its whole duration. He added he sent the board an email citing the code and explaining how he is not required to submit a syllabus.
However, Keevan-Lynch, said the board did not respond back until approximately 11 p.m. on April 5, admitting that Jackson did not need to submit a syllabus. He said gave Jackson less than a day to collect signatures on time.
Jackson said he did not collect signatures Thursday because he was not sure whether he would be disqualified for leaving the orientation early.
“I wasn’t collecting signatures on Thursday because of the ‘or else’ option, and Thursdays are a class-heavy day,” he said.
Each candidate is required to submit a completed application with 75 signatures.
Aaron Boudaie, current Financial Supports commissioner and one of the petitioner’s witnesses running for USAC president, spoke about his previous experiences completing a candidate application. Boudaie said he thinks it is not reasonable to expect candidates to collect all signatures in the time Jackson had.
“The fact that council pushed the election calendar to provide candidates 10 days (to complete the application) indicates that candidates need time to collect it,” he said.
In response, election board investigations director Matthew Dunham, who represented his board members, said the board did not sanction Jackson from collecting signatures and that he was held to the same standard as other candidates.
“At no point in the emails did (the board) stop (Jackson) from collecting signatures,” he said. “Also, having run a successful campaign last year, he had an advantage.”
Dunham added that the election calendar, which includes the application deadline, has been available on the board’s website since March 14. Jackson was present when the council voted and approved the election calendar on March 13.
The board did not disqualify Jackson for leaving the orientation early but for submitting his applications late, Dunham said. He added the board was acting in accordance with the USAC Election Code to ensure a fair election.
“We received 39 candidate applications and one constitutional amendment all under the same deadline,” he said.
In response, Keevan-Lynch said the board’s decision to request a syllabus and delay its response to Jackson unfairly stopped Jackson from completing his application.
“The Election Board made a mistake. … (He) didn’t get a response until 11 p.m.,” he said. “If (the Election Board) took away 13 hours from Justin Jackson, they should give back 13 minutes.”
Chief Justice Nicholas Yu adjourned the hearing at about 8 p.m. He said the judicial board is currently deliberating and hopes to release a decision by the Tuesday council meeting.