The UF Supreme Court released an opinion Thursday overturning four amendments to the UF Student Government Constitution that date back to 2008.
The amendments overturned are the following: allowing remote online voting, reducing the number of available senate seats, reducing the amount of petition signatures needed from the Student Body (previously 5 percent rather than 10) and adding genetic information in SG’s anti-discrimination policy.
The decision went into effect June 25, the day court met, and the discussion was open to the public, said Chris Tribbey, the UF Supreme Court chief justice.
“What we did was not make a decision based on amendments,” Tribbey said of the opinion. “What we did was interpret Section 4 of Article VIII of the (UF) Constitution. It had nothing to do with which amendment. It had do with the (UF) Constitution, and our job is to interpret the constitution.”
Tribbey said he found the amendments’ approval votes did not meet the required three-fifths majority mandated by the constitution. He said he contacted SG adviser James Tyger, who told him the issue could only be investigated if it was petitioned by a group or if the Student Body president asked the court to review it.
He said he then brought his findings to Webster.
“By request of the Student Body president is one of the ways that the court can look an issue,” he said. “She requested we look at this issue.”
Once the court had permission to proceed, it met on Saturday, June 25, to accommodate the justices’ busy schedules, Tribbey said.
During the meeting, he said the court discussed Article VII, Section 4, of the constitution, which states that “a three-fifths approval vote of those voting in the Spring general election is necessary to ratify all constitutional amendments.”
Tribbey said the court compared the number of people who voted “yes” for amendments with the total number of students who voted in the entire election. The four overturned amendments did not meet the three-fifths (60 percent) threshold.
Tribbey said the court’s opinion explains the decision, detailing how the statistics behind each amendment did not meet the the required three-fifth approval.
“We want to make sure that everybody understands what happens,” he said.
In regard to the ruling, Webster said she does not plan to ask the Supreme Court to meet again. She declined a phone interview and instead responded through email.
“No, the issue is black and white and the decision was unanimous with appointments from the previous administration as well,” she wrote.
According to the UF Constitution, election results must be confirmed and verified by the Student Senate. Results of the Spring 2016 election had been verified as being constitutional and having no irregularities.
Though past elections have been verified, she said if the Student Senate wrongly approved them, the Supreme Court can intervene.
Austin Young, a member of Global Vote, said he submitted a petition to keep the court from releasing its opinion on Thursday morning.
His petition asked the court to meet again because legally, while multiple items may be on one ballot, each item is a separate election, according to the petition. In theory, a student could submit a ballot without voting in a race, essentially turning in a blank ballot, he said.
In the UF Supreme Court’s ruling, it ruled the number of votes needed for an amendment to pass must be 60 percent approval of all students casting a ballot.
Young said he and Global Vote will try to have the Court meet again.
While he thinks the Court will one day overturn the decision, Young said he hopes the UF Student Senate votes to implement online voting in the Fall election if the Court does not overturn it by then.
“Our goal is to reinstate online voting; our goal is to get our vote back,” Young said.
The Alligator initially stated Webster provided no response to a question about how she would bring online voting back to students, instead attaching a copy of her platform. She was, in fact, correcting the reporter's statement that online voting was part of the platform.