The Student Association Court has ruled that the election oversight body must reconsider a decision against SA Presidential candidate Marc Abanto which could disqualify him from last week’s runoff election.
In Joint Elections Committee versus Abanto- which originated from a complaint by a student before the runoff election took place- the JEC issued one penalty to Abanto for the actions of Student Union campaign worker sophomore Dan Pollock, who threatened students during candidate postering in February. In its decision made before the general election, the JEC ruled that Abanto was responsible for the actions of his agent, Pollock.
According to section 135 of the JEC charter, “any candidate who intimidates, threatens, coerces, or promises monetary compensation to other persons for the purpose of interfering with or influencing the right of such other persons to vote or to vote as they may choose…shall be disqualified.”
The Court is requiring the JEC to either penalize Abanto for the actions of Pollock, which would disqualify Abanto from the runoff election, or assess no penalties to Abanto, according to the Court decision.
“In making its decision, the JEC seems to conceptualize agency as a mitigating factor, or that Mr. Abanto’s agent may have been somewhat the candidates agency, but not in the way that would require the full penalty,” said the Court decision. “This opinion clearly demonstrates a misunderstanding of agency, and in that vein, the JEC abused its discretion. Once the JEC has found an agency relationship it is required to issue full penalties.”
JEC Chair Laura Bentele, a sophomore, was not available for comment.
Currently, sophomore Nicole Capp is the SA president-elect, with Abanto coming in second place during the runoff election.
If Abanto is disqualified from the election it is unclear what the next step would be. Capp may be declared the winner of the election automatically which would not change the results. Or if the JEC rules that Abanto was disqualified at least 24 hours before the start of the runoff election then the next highest vote getter from the general election would compete in the runoff.
Thursday’s runoff election results have not been certified by the JEC, which needs approval from the Student Activities Center to ensure the nominees are in good standing to take office.