In an emergency meeting, the Associated Students of Portland State Judicial Review Board denied a would-be presidential candidate ballot access on grounds that the ticket lacked a vice-presidential running mate. The petitioner and presidential hopeful, Anthony Robotham, declined J-Board offers to bring him onto the ballot as a Senate or SFC candidate and said in a subsequent interview that he will appeal the decision.
The decision came as part of a same-day meeting called by Chief Justice Nathan Claus, who met on April 30 with Vice Chief Justice Barbara Payne and Associate Justice Ukiah Hawkins, in addition to the petitioner. The meeting was scheduled hours before the 7 a.m. ballot opening, and time constraints forced the justices to meet at the time of a concurrent candidate meet and greet.
Robotham filed an attention request after receiving word from Coordinator of Student Government Relations Candace Avalos that his election packet would be disqualified due to the lack of a running mate. He contended during the meeting that the ASPSU constitution lacked language expressly forbidding candidates to run alone and that he should be allowed to run solo.
Payne, who opposed a motion to deny Robotham’s attention request in the 2-1 J-Board decision, said during the meeting that the issue was gray. She and the other justices also pointed to the ASPSU Orientation PowerPoint, which is made publicly available on the ASPSU website. The PowerPoint states that the president and vice president candidates must run as a slate.
“This PowerPoint technically is part of campaign materials,” Payne said during the meeting.
Claus also argued that the PowerPoint presentation is binding and the product of previous senate procedures.
“All of that has been voted on by the student senate,” Claus said. “The PowerPoint is merely taking the information from those and putting it into a readable format to make the presentation to candidates, so essentially, they can get the big points relatively quickly.”
In addition to the PowerPoint, the J-Board cited precedent as a concern during their deliberation. Hawkins contended that the search for a vice president after the elections process would bog down the onboarding of the incoming student government and initiate potentially messy vice presidential searches for future student governments.
“The precedent we would make today if we allowed him to run would change the entire way that ASPSU elections have been run in the history of ASPSU elections,” he said. “He would have to come up with an entirely new process [for selecting vice presidents].”
Robotham thanked the J-Board for its willingness to convene during the meeting, but he also expressed frustration with the meeting’s timing.
“The hearing was scheduled during the only candidate meet and greet, at the exact same time,” he said. “I understand that this is an urgent thing, but they could have waited until after the meet and greet. I would have had more of a chance to talk with people and hear their issues.”
The J-Board also discussed the potential of getting Robotham onto the ballot as an independent candidate for the student senate or the SFC. The justices left deliberations to ask Robotham twice if he would consider running for an alternate position, but he declined.
After the meeting, Robotham pointed to the election process and recent failures as reasons for his desire to run as president and noted that he would prefer to run on his own.
“Looking into why the last election was invalidated and reset, I found years and years of similar or equivalent shenanigans,” he said. “The students of [PSU] deserve much better than that. The student activity fee controls about 14 million of our dollars. I’m just saying, there needs to be change at the top to get more people involved.”
After voting to deny Robotham’s attention request, the J-Board informed him of his rights to appeal the decision. They also noted that there could be no further delays in the election and that future actions by Robotham would require him to run as a write-in candidate.