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Thursday, October 06, 2022

Votes in this week's Student Government elections might not count if SG officials agree with a Students Party petition that claims results are invalid.

Students Party member Jonathan Ossip told the UF Supreme Court that the election should be redone because of technical and administrative errors with the electronic voting system.

Supervisor of elections Toni Megna said Tuesday's votes tallied in at 5,486. Megna said she was advised not to further break down the results by voting location.

During elections Tuesday, the computers used for voting didn't match students' addresses and voting districts, Megna said, which she said was corrected by linking the voting system with students' addresses from the Office of the University Registrar.

However, many students have their permanent home addresses listed, not their local ones. When the computer system read this, Megna said, it placed those students in voting District E, which includes all ZIP codes except those listed in Districts A, B, C and D.

Students who didn't catch the mistake when the computer verified their district would have proceeded to the voting page, which would list the candidates for District E.

Anyone who tried to vote under District E after the problem was corrected in the afternoon had to complete an affidavit with his or her address to make sure he or she was zoned for District E.

Once a student had viewed the voting page, he or she could not go back or vote again, Megna said.

She said students should pay attention to their voting district and know their ZIP code.

"Before they sit down to vote, they should know what district they live in," she said.

However, Ossip argued that students weren't educated about the system and that the screen was misleading.

"Nobody's properly explaining it to them at all," he said. Ossip said many students might have voted under the wrong district.

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Because of these problems, Ossip and the Students Party scheduled an emergency hearing with the UF Supreme Court for Tuesday night. Under Florida law, the public must be notified of a meeting 24 hours in advance, but Ossip said continuing elections would cause "irreparable damages."

Student Body Chief Justice Matt Michel and three Associate Justices ruled that they could not hold the hearing because they were uncomfortable interpreting state law instead of the UF Constitution, which is what they interpret.

Unite Party spokeswoman Christina Bonarrigo said she isn't worried about an issue going unresolved.

"If there is a problem, it will go through the channels it needs to," she said.

Ossip said the Students Party will file for a hearing, but he doesn't know when. Michel said that when a meeting date, time and place have been agreed upon, the information will be posted in the SG Office at least 24 hours in advance.

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