Judicial Board delays ruling on election results

The Judicial Board heard testimony Tuesday night about the validity of Rudy Soto’s victory in the ASPSU presidential election.

The Judicial Board heard testimony Tuesday night about the validity of Rudy Soto’s victory in the ASPSU presidential election.

Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU) presidential candidate Patrick Beisell filed an official complaint against the Elections Board decision Friday to validate Soto’s election to ASPSU president because Soto may not have met credit requirement guidelines of the 2006-07 ASPSU constitution.

Students in a filled and tense room spoke in favor of both Soto and Beisell.

Judicial Board members voted to delay a decision about whether Soto met the requirement so that they could fully examine documents presented to them and receive legal counsel. They will reconvene Thursday at 9 p.m.

Soto was elected as ASPSU president Friday with 999 votes, 52.3 percent of the total votes cast. Students also voted to pass all constitutional revisions to the ASPSU constitution by a vote of 1,450 to 242.

In the constitutional revisions, students voted to remove a requirement that forced ASPSU officers to complete at least six credit hours each term. Soto said that he was enrolled in eight credits Friday, and three of those credits were ineligible under the constitution before the revisions.

Because Soto only had five applicable credits, he was one credit shy of the required six credits according to the old ASPSU constitution.

However, Elections Board bylaws state that the revised constitution goes into effect once the Elections Board validates the election results. The board must validate both the PSU student body election results and verify that all candidates are eligible to run.

The controversy was sparked when Elections Board members did not know whether to first verify the candidates or to validate the election results.

If the board verified the candidates, and then validated the election results, the Elections Board could be forced to use the 2006-07 constitution, which would invalidate Soto because he did not meet the credit requirements. If the board validated the election results before verifying candidates, therefore enacting the revised constitution, Soto would be eligible to be ASPSU president.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Soto presented a Judicial Board decision from May 7, 2005 that states, “Constitutional amendments shall affect the results of the same election that amendments were voted on, unless otherwise specified.”

The Elections Board decided 2-1 to validate Soto and Vehafric’s election to office on Friday, a move that may have violated the unrevised ASPSU constitution.

Against the decision was Elections Board Chair Ethan Gross, who said in a prepared statement, “As soon as Rudy Soto was identified as being an ineligible candidate, he should have been eliminated from the race.”

The two Elections Board members who voted to elect Soto did not speak at the meeting.

Soto said he was registered for 12 credits when the elections process began. When the Elections Board checked his eligibility on Friday, Soto said he was only registered for eight credits, three of which do not apply toward the six-credit requirement because of the kind of class they are.

On Monday Soto registered for four more credits to fulfill his credit requirement.

Soto said he was making changes to his schedule on Friday during the verification. He said he believes that because he was in the process of making changes to his schedule in the normal four-week add/drop period, he should be accepted as the ASPSU president.

The ASPSU constitution states that a member must be enrolled in and complete six credits, something Soto said he is currently doing.

The constitution before revisions states: “All students elected or appointed, standing as candidates for office, or serving in ASPSU governance, programs or committees shall be required to be students in good standing, as defined by the university, and to enroll in and complete at least six credits [sic] hours each quarter, excluding Educational Activity Leadership Credits, during the term of office, with the exception of summer term.”

Soto’s eligibility was checked on April 11 and then again on April 20. Sometime in between those dates Soto dropped a course. He said he does not remember when it was.

Beisell said at the meeting that Soto had an unfair advantage because he was taking fewer credits, allowing him to lobby for more votes. He said Soto should not be elected so that he and Ozimkowski can “take back the office that should have been ours.”

ASPSU adviser Natalee Webb said this election is unique because it was held in the third week of spring term, when candidates can still add and drop courses. Elections are supposed to be held during week nine of winter term, when candidates were not able to add and drop, ensuring that they are actually enrolled, Webb said.

Judicial Board officials said they did not make a ruling because they did not want to violate Oregon law by inappropriately agreeing or disagreeing with the May 7 decision Soto brought forth.