The Student Court ruled on Tuesday to uphold the Joint Election Committee’s decision to disqualify presidential candidate Kyle Boyer from the Student Association runoff election.
As a result, the presidential runoff is held Wednesday and Thursday of this week between sophomores Julie Bindelglass and Nick Polk.
In a 2-1 decision, the court found that the Joint Elections Committee, a Student Association election oversight body, did not overstep its bounds in disqualifying Boyer from the ballot prior to spring break. Senior Brand Kroeger was the dissenting vote.
“While the members of this court disagree with the analysis of the JEC, and perhaps even the outcome, they recognize the deference due to the JEC and cannot find an instance of abuse of discretion,” wrote Chief Judge Chris Wimbush. The court has 30 days to publish majority and dissenting opinions.
Boyer, a junior, did not respond to requests for comment, but posted a message to his friends on Twitter.
“I mean everything happens for a reason, I could quote a scripture but you already know that God is awesome,” Boyer wrote on Tuesday night. “And no, I’m not voting tomorrow.”
Boyer missed winning the presidential seat by two votes last month and was slated for a runoff election with Bindelglass. The election was delayed, however, when a series of violations were levied against Boyer’s campaign, and Boyer subsequently appealed to the Student Court.
The violations against Boyer, which originated from complaints filed by senior Wylie Ballinger, concerned his compliance with the JEC’s standards for reporting campaign finances.
The JEC said in their ruling on the violations that Boyer should have claimed the fair market value of a car he used to display posters on H Street during the general election two weeks ago. The car was borrowed for the campaign from Boyer’s friend Dave Fowler and therefore had no specific attached cost. The JEC said that the fair market value of the 1997 Jeep Cherokee could be compared to the rental cost of a mid-sized SUV, thereby pushing Boyer over the spending limit.
Boyer, the SA’s executive vice president, said in a student court hearing in the Marvin Center Amphitheater on Monday that Fowler’s car was in poor condition with high mileage and would not be available to rent on the market, thus no fair market value exists for the car. He added that even if the JEC determined that Boyer had to report the fair market value of the car, the vehicle should have been reflected in a lower price estimate than the JEC’s $206.
Judge Brand Kroeger, last year’s SA executive vice president, asked Boyer if there was “even a market to rent a car” like Fowler’s. Boyer said there was not.
Judge Derek Jamison, a law student, asked why a mid-sized SUV was used to compute the fair market value. “Wouldn’t a van or a cardboard box suffice?” he asked, noting that the car was used for storage.
Regardless of the vehicle’s fair market value, Boyer argued that it did not need to be reported to the JEC because the car itself was not intended for campaign purposes.
Although the posters displayed on the Jeep did promote his candidacy, Boyer argued that the car itself did not.
“The fact of the matter is that Mr. Boyer used the SUV to promote his candidacy over those two days, even if it was donated by Mr. Fowler,” said James Bonneau, an investigator for the JEC, during the hearing. “It just doesn’t make sense that Mr. Boyer is allowed to shortcut around the rules and borrow his friend’s car. That is capricious, to require that other candidates list their expenditure and excuse Mr. Boyer.”
The second complaint against Boyer accused him of failing to submit financial information about Facebook advertisements he had purchased. Boyer told the court that this was a “legitimately forgetful event” and that he attempted to correct his error in an e-mail to the JEC requesting a second opportunity to submit his financial forms.
“I find that argument to be completely ridiculous,” Bonneau said. “Nowhere in the additional 2009 rules and nowhere in the JEC charter does it permit the JEC to extend deadlines for a single candidate. We explicitly stated when the deadline for reporting would be. Nowhere in the rules or charter is there an allowance, even for honest mistakes.”
Two judges, medical student Ricky Harika and senior Kevin Kozlowski, were not in attendance and took no part in the decision. Only three are required to hear a case and render a decision.
Andrew Nacin contributed to this report.