Inspire Party’s newly won Senate seats are safe.
Four elections commission members affirmed this semester’s UF Student Government election results on Thursday with Inspire winning the majority of Senate seats after remaining complaints were withdrawn via email.
Inspire and Gator Party emailed the elections commission at 5:48 p.m. to withdraw complaints remaining from last Thursday’s elections commission meeting. Alfredo Ortiz, who was an independent candidate, emailed the commission on Monday.
Ortiz said he withdrew his complaint to avoid further drama since the elections passed.
Inspire and Gator met on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. before the elections commission meeting, which was rescheduled twice, and agreed to withdraw remaining complaints they had filed.
The elections commission was going to address two more complaints Gator submitted against Inspire. The violations accused Inspire of flyering in an area of Gainesville that wasn’t approved by the SG election codes and making a financial disclosure request at an improper time.
Inspire Party President Zachary Amrose said Inspire flyered in District D, which is legal, and that its request was submitted at a proper time.
Wednesday, four Supreme Court justices reversed the elections commission’s recommendation to disqualify Inspire from the elections at a SG Supreme Court hearing. This happened after Gator filed a complaint against Inspire.
“I think this is pretty cut and dry,” said SG Supreme Court Chief Justice David Walsh. “I don’t think there’s a violation here.”
After Inspire’s unprecedented win in the Fall 2019 SG elections, it faced potential disqualification when it was accused of violating election rules by sending a Listserv email to students on Sept. 23 encouraging them to vote.
Gator Party filed the complaint on Sept. 25, but none of its members attended the hearing.
“Gator Party wants to ensure the voice of every Gator is heard and we did not agree with the penalty that was assessed by the elections commission,” Gator wrote in an email to The Alligator. “Due to this, our party did not attend last night’s hearing.”
SG Supreme Court Chief Justice David Walsh said he received an email from Gator member Branden Pearson at 3:39 p.m. Wednesday that Gator doesn’t support Inspire’s disqualification.
“Gator Party does not agree with the penalty of disqualification that was recommended by the elections commission,” Pearson wrote. “In light of this we will not be attending tonight’s Supreme Court hearing and requesting the complaint be dismissed without prejudice.”
Walsh said he could not dismiss the complaint because Pearson’s email asking to dismiss his previous complaint didn’t contain the complaint itself.
The justices ended the meeting by reversing the elections commission’s recommendation for disqualification against Inspire.
Inspire Party campaign manager Ashley Grabowski spoke for 20 minutes at the hearing. She came in with a 72-page legal brief citing case facts, Inspire’s defense argument and written statements from UF officials within the Registrar's Office and UF Information Technology supporting that there was no violation of email usage regulations.
Inspire didn’t violate UF’s email usage regulations because email addresses are public records. Therefore, students don’t have to consent to the release of their email addresses, Grabowski said.
UF officials cleared Inspire of violations, Grabowski said in her speech.
Grabowski said she plans to move forward by raising awareness with the public.
“That’s where the power really lies: with the public,” Grabowski said. “They’re the ones who really get to make decisions.”
Olivia Dunbar, a 20-year-old computer engineering junior at UF, votes Tuesday in the fall student government election at the Marston Library.