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Davis, California

Monday, May 27, 2024

ASUCD court postpones hearing for elections case

The fairness of last quarter’s ASUCD elections will have to wait at least another week to be decided, as the court delayed hearing the complaint made by student Chris Ambriz.

The court was scheduled to hear the case tonight, but cancelled the hearing late yesterday because Ambriz was late turning in his brief. The court has not yet rescheduled the hearing date.

Ambriz, a senior political science major, filed the complaint, citing the ASUCD Constitution’s Bill of Rights #6, which states that students “have the right to a fair vote in all ASUCD elections without any form of disenfranchisement. All ASUCD elections shall be fair and proper as outlined in the ASUCD elections codes.”

Ambriz stated in his complaint that the election was unfair and another should take place because “the unprecedented nature of the election disenfranchised student votes during the time the website was down and during the extended voting hours.”

The complaint was filed in reaction to two different malfunctions during voting hours of last quarter’s election on Feb. 18 through 20. Due to an error in the Central Authentication System, students were unable to log in to vote during a three and a half hour time block. False results were also accidentally leaked before the Elections Committee announced the official results on Feb. 20 due to a system glitch.

Ambriz did not respond to numerous requests for comment regarding the hearing.

The Elections Committee holds that the amount of time that the website was down was equal to the amount of time the elections were extended, and that they notified students to the best of their abilities.

“We believe we did everything right in the winter election,” said Adam Thongsavat, Elections Committee chair and sophomore political science and history major. “We followed the constitution, we followed the bylaws and we followed the elections codes. We held a fair and valid election. We were never interested in the politics of it.”

Thongsavat will act as the defendant in tonight’s hearing.

A similar case was filed on Feb. 25 by Reynaldo Rodriguez, however when the case was sent to Student Judicial Affairs, officials decided that giving an opinion on the complaint was not within their jurisdiction.

Since the student court handles all appellate jurisdiction, they agreed to hear the second complaint.

Hearings such as these follow an agenda laid out by the ASUCD judicial codes; however, members of the court may suspend any order of the agenda by majority consensus. After a call to order and quorum roll call, Chief Justice Missy Whitney will read the charge against the Elections Committee, followed by the Election’s Committee plea.

Should the Elections Committee plead innocence, the hearing will commence with arguments from both the plaintiff and defendant, followed by direct and cross examinations of witnesses. Ambriz plans to bring forth four witnesses: Jasmine Smith, former presidential candidate Lula Ahmed-Falol, Yolo Country Clerk-Recorder Freddie Oakley and Thongsavat.

The plaintiff and defendant’s closing arguments and a judicial examination will follow, in which the members of the court can ask questions of both parties.

“My guess is that the counsel will most likely discuss precedent issues in the judicial examination, either from other student governments or from state elections,” said Whitney, a junior biotechnology major.

After the plaintiff makes recommendations for further actions and the meeting is adjourned, the court will make a motion and vote on their decision.

If Ambriz feels the court has not ruled fairly, he may take his case to Yolo Superior Court, according to sources within ASUCD. Ambriz again did not respond to requests for comment.

“This is an issue that people on both sides are very passionate about,” Whitney said. “It will be completely student run. Students are taking the stands, serving on the defense counsel and making final judgment.


LAUREN STEUSSY can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.




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