Elections opinion released by Judicial Board

The Judicial Board released their official majority opinion Tuesday on a ruling that would invalidate Rudy Soto as a candidate for ASPSU president.

The Judicial Board released their official majority opinion Tuesday on a ruling that would invalidate Rudy Soto as a candidate for ASPSU president.

The opinion calls for the Elections Board to consider all votes for Soto and his running-mate Brad Vehafric invalid, which would disqualify 999 student votes. It calls for the Elections Board to validate all the winning candidates of the ASPSU elections, excluding Soto.

The Judicial Board is the highest-ranking body in student government and their decision is binding. The Elections Board facilitates student government elections and validates the election results.

If the Elections Board follows the Judicial Board ruling, Patrick Beisell and running-mate Johnnie Ozimkowski will be put into office as ASPSU president and vice president. Beisell and Ozimkowski were the only other candidates to run for the executive office and came in second to Soto and Vehafric.

The Judicial Board opinion cited Article II, Section 6 of the Elections Board bylaws, which states that all candidates must meet the requirements in the ASPSU constitution.

The majority opinion states that Soto became invalid as a candidate when he dropped below a constitutionally required six-credit minimum while he was adding and dropping classes during elections. The Elections Board originally upheld Soto’s victory despite the requirement, but the Judicial Board ruled that decision to be unconstitutional in a 3-0-1 vote.

The opinion cited Article III of the Elections Board bylaws, which states: “Any candidate found ineligible to seek election to an ASPSU office shall be so notified by the Elections Board. He/she shall be considered to have withdrawn from the elections and have his or her name removed from the ballot. Any votes cast for that candidate shall be considered invalid.”

At the end of the third week of spring term, when the Elections Board checked the eligibility of all candidates who had won a spot from the election, the board found that Soto was one credit below the minimum.

“It would impose a warrantless double standard for it to be found that Rudy Soto was an eligible candidate,” wrote Judicial Board Chair Keith Creech in the opinion, “when in fact other students in similar circumstances were denied.”

Creech wrote that Article VII, Section 4 of the Elections Board bylaws “prohibits the board from changing its policies ‘between the First Candidate Orientation and the announcement of election results.'” Creech wrote that some candidates were disqualified because of the same six-credit minimum during candidate orientation, and validating Soto as a candidate would create a double standard.

Soto beat out opponent Beisell for the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) presidency by 89 votes, 999 to 910, during student government elections in the third week of spring term.

The Judicial Board opinion also dismissed objections that Soto made to the board’s ruling. Soto said that because elections were moved from the ninth week of winter term to the third week of spring term, he was still within the recognized time to add and drop classes without consequence.

The Judicial Board opinion says that Soto should never have dropped below the six-credit minimum. The opinion states that Soto could have added classes before he dropped them, therefore remaining above the minimum.

The opinion also refuted an objection that said election results should be verified after April 27, at the end of the university add-drop period.

“The promise to take credits is not a substitute for taking them,” the opinion reads.

The opinion instructs the Elections Board to consider Soto ineligible as a candidate and consider all votes cast for him invalid. The Elections Board is meeting on Thursday at 12 p.m. in Room 117A of the Smith Memorial Student Union.

Judicial Board Justice Molly Woon abstained from the vote. She wrote in a dissenting opinion that she did not feel comfortable making a decision about the election results without legal advice from the Department of Justice.

The other Judicial Board members made the decision without legal advice from the Department of Justice.

“I know that the Judicial Board would like to imagine that there is no other court than ours and that the court of public opinion holds no sway upon our operations but I think that is a naive and inaccurate perception. I would rather be sensitive to this reality than kid myself otherwise,” Woon wrote in the dissenting opinion. “Because of this sensitivity, I would have liked more information before casting an up-or-down vote.”

“As a matter of interpreting the constitution, the decision today is not difficult,” Creech wrote in the majority opinion. “However, we find it tragic that matters should have been allowed to go this far. All students of ASPSU are wronged when students present themselves as candidates, and do not meet the requirements that are demanded of them.”

Read the majority opinion here and the dissenting opinion here.