The IU Student Association Supreme Court ruled Thursday to grant part of an appeal filed by the Engage with IUSA ticket to the Election Commission. The petition asked the court to direct the commission to review four complaints filed by the ticket and that were initially denied on a formatting basis.
Complaints 21 and 24 were filed against Empower IU and pertained to Student Life and Learning advertising, licensing policies and distribution of the voting link. Complaints 22 and 23 were filed against the Focus ticket and also pertained to vote link distribution and SLL advertising policies.
This decision only grants a portion of the petition. The initial appeal from Engage asked the court to order the commission to review the rejected complaints, but it also asked that the next Election Commission post all procedures according to the timeline set in the IUSA bylaws.
The court denied the latter request.
“After reviewing the procedures set forth in the IUSA Election Code and Procedural Election Code, the Student Body Supreme Court rules that complaints submitted as .DOC or .DOCX files prior to the stated deadline shall receive equal consideration to those submitted as .PDF files,” the court wrote in its decision.
When reached for comment after the ruling, Engage’s presidential candidate, junior Michelle Long, said her ticket was pleased with the decision, not the circumstances that provoked it.
“But this sort of situation is precisely what turns people off from IUSA,” Long said. “There are much more important things to argue about than file type.”
Dan Niersbach, junior and presidential candidate for Empower — the ticket that took first place in a preliminary vote ranking — said because his ticket replied to every complaint regardless of status, the decision does not change much for Empower.
He said the ticket members believe their position was defended thoroughly and they don’t see any deductions or violations in their future.
He said his ticket didn’t appreciate IUSA President Sara Zaheer, senior, involving herself on behalf of Engage in the complaint process.
Some of Empower’s campaign members worked on Zaheer’s REAL ticket in last year’s IUSA election.
“We still think it’s really petty of Engage and Sara to be going after us,” Niersbach said. “If anything, this is just a huge inconvenience to all the kids that ran for office. It’s a huge inconvenience to the election commission, and it’s a huge inconvenience to us.”
Brandon Sakbun, junior and presidential candidate for Focus — which took second place in the same ranking — voiced his support for the commission in a statement to the Indiana Daily Student.
“We will continue to support the Election Commission as they work to ensure a fair election with honesty and integrity,” Sakbun said in the statement. “While we have no official involvement in some of the complaints being discussed, we look forward to receiving the final results and continuing to better the university.”
The Election Commission spent Thursday night deliberating complaint decisions, which took the court ruling into account.
“The Election Commission respects the decision of the Supreme Court, and we will follow their direction,” the commission said in a statement to the Indiana Daily Student. “We are meeting now to discuss the complaints and plan to release all of our decisions on the complaints tonight.”
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