Supreme court hears appeals by penalized SGA campaigners

Luis Barrio and Jose Soto

Several hearings were held in front of the Student Government’s Supreme Court at the SGA’s offices on May 7 as the result of alleged improprieties on the part of candidates before and during the SGA elections, which were held April 30 – May 1.

The first preliminary hearing was held at 12:14 p.m. May 7, concerning Genesis Delhumeau, senator-at-large candidate with the BOLD Party. Delhumeau, senior communication studies major, was defending herself against accusations that she took part in unsolicited campaigning. The SGA Election Commissioners, who regulate the rules and regulations of the SGA elections, were accusing the defendant of going to multiple dorm rooms at Miner Village and soliciting votes before campaigning for the SGA elections was allowed.

The defense made the case that no pictures, video or audio were presented. She argued that the complaints were on a hearsay basis.

The panel of five judges took a five-minute recess and reconvened at 12:38 p.m. They came to the decision to meet again at 5 p.m. to hear the testimony of other witnesses that would be presented by both the prosecutors and the defense.

A second preliminary hearing began shortly afterward. The defendant, junior business major Ruben Chavez, was a candidate for president from the BOLD Party. He was requesting that the chief justices reduce the previous sanctions ordered on executive candidates for the BOLD Party to have their vote total percentage deduction reduced from 3 percent to 1 percent. The executive candidates for the BOLD Party were sanctioned for early campaigning.

The defense was using a separate, but equal argument. The senatorial candidates from the BOLD Party were penalized with a 1 percent sanction for the same infraction. Chavez was requesting that the three executive candidates of the party have the same penalty. The justices decided to equal the sanctions to 1 percent.

In another hearing that day, senior interdisciplinary studies major Elizabeth Dominguez, who was a BOLD Party candidate for collegiate senator-science, represented the party in appealing a complaint that brought about sanctions for them during the election. The Bold Party was penalized for using the hashtags #UTEP and #SGA on “Instagram” as part of their campaign, which is in violation of the election code 811, according to election commissioners Perla Galindo, junior political science major, and Jaime Hernandez. Dominguez was asking the court to bring the same sanctions to the YES party, claiming the election commissioners dismissed a case involving the YES Party and that no penalties were enforced on other candidates.

The commissioners had previously dismissed a case against Independent Party presidential candidate Robert Dominguez, junior biochemistry major, because they said the evidence against him was inconclusive, since the evidence was only a screenshot that didn’t include the party’s name.

They cited that the BOLD Party had turned in the same evidence for two cases, including evidence against junior biochemistry major Mario Soto, vice president for internal affairs candidate for the YES Party.

Robert Dominguez’s name on the violation/complaint form was turned in with his name crossed out. The commissioners said that no date or time was depicted on screenshot and they dismissed the case.

Karen Aguilar, vice president for external affairs for BOLD Party, and Ruben Chavez were brought in as witnesses for the BOLD party. According to election commissioners, Chavez met with them to turn in turn in a violation/complaint form. Aguilar had also sent the same violation/complaint form. Elizabeth Dominguez claimed that the election commission is showing inconsistency in its rulings, but the commissioners claim that they approach situations on a case-by-case basis.

They said since it was the BOLD Party who turned in Robert Dominguez’s case as evidence, they used it in this particular case as well. At 2:13, the Supreme Court took a recess to come up with a verdict.  At 2:41, they resumed and announced that the YES Party would be sanctioned by 1 percent as a whole.

The Supreme Court commenced once again to decide whether the sanction on Delhumeau would be a 15 percent deduction of total votes as requested by the election commissioners. The judges heard witnesses’ testimony and reached a verdict that Delhumeau “did in fact go to Miner Village and campaign in some sort of way. It was precedent in years past that you’re not supposed to go to Miner Village without the consent of the directors of Miner housing authority,” according to Gustavo Dominguez, Chief Justice, and the rest of the judges.

Luis Barrio and Jose Soto may be reached at [email protected]