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Thursday, December 07, 2023

Four of the UF Supreme Court justices outlined measures for future elections cycles at a meeting Wednesday night.

The justices asserted the court's authority in elections with an outline that limits the authority of the Student Senate, details the responsibilities of the court and touches on the fall elections procedures, which prompted the meeting. None of these limits are set until the final court opinion is published. The court has no set publication date.

The court lifted an injunction Monday that had postponed the Senate's vote to validate the elections. The decision came after an investigation into elections procedures that the court ordered the Election Commission to carry out.

Chief Justice Matt Michel and Associate Justices Tim Mason, Georgia Buckhalter and Cecily Welsh agreed that they did not have the authority to directly tell the Senate what rules to make to govern future elections.

Michel said a direct order would be "inching [the court] closer to party politics."

The justices decided the Senate has the power to validate the elections in terms of counting votes and assuring accuracy. However, they agreed the Supreme Court determines the fairness of the elections.

Mason pointed out that because members of the Senate are chosen in these elections, having the Senate determine fairness would be a conflict of interests.

If a student claims the validation should be postponed, as members of the Students Party did in the fall elections, justices confirmed the court can issue an injunction to delay the validation.

Future elections complaints will be assessed using the question: "Were the students materially prevented from expressing their political will?"

The justices will make suggestions on procedures to fix and point out what would have corrected some of the errors in this cycle's elections.

The justices agreed it will be up to the Senate as to whether it will take the suggestions. Mason said he did not want to see the same issues he saw in past weeks.

"I'm going to be less forgiving," he said.

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