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Saturday, April 17, 2021

The back-and-forth battle between two UF students fighting for the right to the Swamp Party name came to a close Monday night.

At the third hearing of Student Government?s Elections Commission since Thursday, it ruled in favor of Keith Hardwick, former Swamp Party president.

Hardwick had registered the name in SG?s spring election, giving him the first shot to register it again this semester, according to rules from the Center for Student Involvement.

Sam Miorelli, who had no previous involvement in the party, registered under the Swamp Party name for the fall election, which prompted Hardwick to file a complaint Thursday.

As the conflict twisted and turned, Miorelli?s presidency rotated among three parties: the Swamp Party, The Party Formerly Known as Swamp, the Florida Students Party and then the Swamp Party again.

After a 9 a.m. Student Body Supreme Court decision not to cancel qualifying, both Hardwick and Miorelli interviewed candidates for their parties, both called the Swamp Party.

The commission said it made the 3-2 decision based on vague wording in Student Body Statutes and a conflict between those rules and the CSI?s. It briefly discussed dismissing the complaint and not allowing anyone to use the name but decided there wasn?t a legal way to enact that plan.

"This is definitely a very tough situation," said Commissioner Alan Tarrab.

Miorelli said it would not be politically practical to appeal the decision, which he saw as a victory because it exposed a vague statute.

He also said he would dissolve his party, regardless of its name, to join the Progress Party. Miorelli, now the chief counsel of the Progress Party, said he would ask candidates who qualified under his previous party to join Progress as well.

"I humbly accept Sam Miorelli?s offer to merge [his party] to the Progress Party," said Joshua Niederriter, treasurer of the Progress Party. "I am happy to embrace him and his slated candidates."

William Foster, president of the Greek Party, announced shortly after Miorelli that his party was dissolving as well.

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"The Greek Party has already found a home in the Gator Party," Foster said.

The commission also handled four other complaints at the hearing. It decided the Gator Party did not illegally begin its campaign early and did not violate any other election rules.

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