A past IU Student Government Supreme Court congress member’s petition caused six congressional candidates’ elected seats to be voided, after a financial campaign document deadline extension was overturned.
Brink Wolak said the Election Commission should have followed the IUSG Bylaws during the fall 2022 IUSG congressional election. Hence, this led to Wolak questioning the authority the Election Commission had to extend the deadline of the financial statements, IUSG Vice President Bell Pastore said in an email. The IU Student Government Supreme Court granted Wolak a writ of certiorari, which is a petition to a court to review a case decision, Sept. 27, according to the Student Body Supreme Court of IU Decision.
During the fall election, 15 congressional candidates had enough votes to be seated.
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However, they were at risk of losing their seats because they failed to submit their financial statements from their campaign period within 72 hours after the election voting closes, Pastore said in an email.
According to the court decision, the IUSG bylaws state that congressional candidates must have their financial statements from their campaign period submitted no later than 72 hours after the election voting closes. The election opened Sept. 20 and closed Sept. 21, so candidates had to submit their financial statements from their campaign by 10 p.m. Sept. 24, according to the court decision.
Candidates who fail to submit financial statements on time commit a Class A Campaign Finance Offense. That means they would be disqualified and lose their seat in IUSG congress, according to the court decision. Instead, the IUSG Election Commission gave the 15 candidates an extension to submit their statements, Pastore said. Candidates can receive an extension if they were in an uncontested election, or if the district was contested in certain cases. However, less than 50% of the candidates in that district had to of submitted their financial statements by the original deadline given, according to the Court decision.
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Of the 15 candidates, 13 met the requirements to receive an extension and be eligible for their seats in Congress if they get their papers in on time, Pastore said. Which means two candidates did not meet the requirements to receive an extension. Eligible candidates had to submit their financial statements sometime between noon on Sept. 25 to noon on Sept. 26, according to the Court decision.
According to the court decision, 6 out of the 13 candidates were not disqualified despite committing a Class A Campaign Finance Offense because they met the extension requirements, and they turned in their financial statements by the extension deadline.
The Court decided this situation went beyond the Election Commission’s authority, so the Election Commission did not have the right to extend the deadline of the financial statements, Pastore said.
The reversal decision of the Election Commission’s actions of allowing an extension led to the six candidates that were elected by the extension being voided, according to the Court decision.