Soto/Vehafric wins, complaint filed

Portland State students elected Urban Students candidates Rudy Soto and Brad Vehafric for the offices of ASPSU president and vice president, but the ASPSU constitution could invalidate Soto’s victory.

Portland State students elected Urban Students candidates Rudy Soto and Brad Vehafric for the offices of ASPSU president and vice president, but the ASPSU constitution could invalidate Soto’s victory.

Soto and Vehafric received 999, 52.3 percent, of the total 1909 votes, beating out opponents Patrick Beisell and Johnnie Ozimkowski, who finished with 910 votes. Students also voted to pass all constitutional revisions to the ASPSU constitution by a vote of 1450 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 did not meet that requirement, which would invalidate him as a candidate according to the 2006-07 constitution, but not according to the revised constitution.

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.

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.

The Elections Board voted 2-1 Friday to validate Soto as ASPSU president, along with all other election results. Because the Elections Board did not know whether to first validate the election results or verify that candidates were eligible, their decision could have violated the constitution.

Beisell filed an attention request, a formal request to review the matter, with the Judicial Board about the credit requirement issue and the validity of the vote to elect Soto as president Friday afternoon. The request will be heard at Tuesday’s Judicial Board meeting.

The 89-vote margin that determined the winner amounts to under 5 percent of students who voted for a presidential and vice presidential ticket. The president and vice president are the top offices of the Associated Students of Portland State University (ASPSU), the campus student government.

Urban Students slate member Amanda Newberg defeated Meaghan Mayeda for the position of Student Fee Committee (SFC) Chair, receiving 938 votes to Mayeda’s 683.

The SFC Chair heads the Student Fee Committee, the arm of student government that oversees the allocation of over $12 million in student incidental fees to Portland State’s student groups including the Vanguard, athletics programs and the Smith Memorial Student Union.

The election results also determined who would fill 22 student senator positions and six SFC member positions. Every person who ran for the student senate was elected into the senate positions. (For a complete listing of candidates and the votes they received, see the back page.)

The two slates split members elected to the SFC, with three members aligned with Soto/Vehafric’s campaign and three members aligned with Beisell/Ozimkowski’s campaign set to serve on next year’s committee.

The president, vice president and senators all take office June 1. The SFC chair and members begin their term July 1. All offices are a one-year term.

Soto and Vehafric’s main campaign goals include restoring 24-hour library access, lowering the cost of the TriMet Flex Pass, and reducing the cost of student health insurance. They have also said they intend to hold a series of campus-wide “town hall” public forums, initiate a textbook exchange, and work to promote student groups and campus organizations.

A total of 1,941 students voted in the election, slightly more than the 1,672 that voted a year ago. For much of the past decade voter turnout had hovered around 6 percent of the student body, until spiking to 10 percent two years ago. All students taking at least one credit at PSU are eligible to vote in the elections.

This would have been the second year that the offices of president and vice president were determined using a voting method called “instant runoff voting,” or “IRV,” at Portland State.

In an IRV election, voters rank candidates in order of preference rather than voting for just one. If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote, the instant runoff begins. The candidate who received the least votes is eliminated, and their votes are redistributed between those voters’ second choice candidates. The runoff process continues until a candidate has at least 50 percent of the vote.

Only two slates were on the ballot this year, therefore nullifying the ability to hold an IRV election. Student voters approved IRV two years ago.

Friday’s results drew to a close an election season plagued by complex problems with running an efficient election, if one at all. The elections were originally to be held during the ninth week of winter term, but because of high Elections Board turnover and candidate ineligibility, the elections were postponed until the third week of spring term.