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Monday, June 17, 2024

Results of the fall Student Senate elections are still up in the air after a UF Supreme Court appeals hearing Monday night.

The court ordered an investigation into the elections process and postponed the Senate's vote to validate the elections.

Election Commission chairman Grant Schnell and the other commissioners will investigate the elections and present a report to the UF Supreme Court by Sunday evening. The court will meet tentatively Sunday night to determine how to act based on the investigation report.

The Election Commission upheld the results at a hearing on Friday. Schnell pointed this out to the justices but acknowledged that some different evidence and arguments were presented at Monday's court hearing.

"I have a hard time seeing how it would be any different," Schnell said.

The court will allow Students Party members, Supervisor of Elections Toni Megna and members of the Student Senate to submit questions to be answered in the investigation.

Questions are due to the justices by Wednesday evening. The court tentatively scheduled a meeting for 8 p.m. that night to approve or deny the questions. The location will be posted in the SG Office in the Reitz Union at least 24 hours in advance.

UF Chief Justice Matt Michel and Associate Justices Georgia Buckhalter, Tim Mason and Cecily Welsh also debated whether to mandate a re-vote, mandate a partial re-vote or instruct the Student Senate to implement stricter regulations for the next elections cycle.

Welsh said she was concerned that students who might not have realized they were incorrectly listed under District E until they reached the candidate list would not have been able to change their district at that point.

The justices also questioned exactly where students' voting addresses were pulled from, whether poll workers received complete procedures from Megna and whether Megna made students aware of address requirements.

Students Party members Jonathan Ossip and Gillian Leytham presented evidence to have the Senate's vote to validate the results postponed.

"The Supreme Court made the right decision," Ossip said.

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Senate Allocations Committee Chairman Joe Pardo, who represented the Senate, and Megna responded to the Students Party's petition.

Pardo said during the hearing that any discrepancies in results stemmed from user error.

After the court's decision, Pardo said he was satisfied and considered the investigation an appropriate measure.

"The investigation granted by this court will yield necessary information for the court to confirm the elections results, which I expect it will," he said.

After both sides presented their arguments and witnesses, the justices deliberated for about two hours.

"I think we can say this [elections process] wasn't good enough," Welsh said.

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