April 12, 2011

More On Today's New Appeal

We just spoke to VSA President Mat Leonard '11, who clarified that it is not the VSA Executive Board that called for an appeal to last night's decision, but rather the Board of Elections. "Exec. has never been named in the complaint and has only been involved in this as far as our governing documents specify," he tells Mads.

Check out the comments section for this post to see the Judicial Board's official decision.

2 comments:

Aardvark said...

Ohhh... okay. It's the Board of Elections, not the Exec Board.

Because the Board of Elections consists (solely) of the VP for Operations and the VSA President's girlfriend, thereby distinguishing the two from any possible connections.

And it's not like one-half of the Board of Elections was the respondent of the original hearing. Oh... wait. No, actually she was.

"Mads Vassar" said...

The Judicial Board's official decision:

As per Article IX.5.A of the Constitution, the respondent would like to file an appeal on two counts.

The respondent believes that procedural rights were violated with regards to the decision being founded on evidence that was not mentioned by either party during the trial. The Board acted nostra sponte (on its own initiative), something which is improper. It is the Board’s job to interpret the evidence provided to it, never to make its own. In this instance the Board addressed a question raised by no one and supported by no evidence provided at trial. Regardless of whether the court is correct, it chose to actively incorporate new evidence on its own initiative, a decision which is almost always held to be a reversible error on appeal in general courts.

Moreover, the respondent believes that there is new evidence that needs to be taken into account during this assessment. This evidence is drawn from a dialogue that took place during the widely attended Operations Committee meeting on April 4th. This dialogue was not mentioned during the trial as the evidence and interpretation used by the court to make its final decision was never included in the trial.

As the judicial board correctly points out, Article VI.8.F of the bylaws was the basis for the Board of Elections’ final decision. Given the importance of this article, the definition of an abstention came up several times during the Operations committee meeting. Initially, the members of the Judicial Board who were present stated that an abstention option would have to be placed on the ballot for the vote to be valid.

The judicial board acknowledges in their memorandum that “To be clear, this subsection (VI.6.A) does not preclude the Board of Elections from declaring that ‘not voting’ is an ‘abstention.’” The Operations Committee came to the consensus that “not voting” has always been declared an abstention by the Board of Elections. This consensus was based on the precedent established by every VSA election in the past three years. There has never been wording on a VSA ballot that states that a non-vote is an abstention. Furthermore, there has never been an option to abstain on any VSA general body vote.

Under counsel from the members of the Judicial Board present, the Operations Committee recommended to the BOE that “a simple majority, not including abstentions,” was sufficient to pass the amendment and that a “non-vote” can be defined as an abstention.

Finally, it is important to note that the Judicial Board’s decision (although in concordance with the bylaws) goes against several years of precedent. As mentioned before, there has never been an explicit mention of abstentions in any election in the past three years. The BOE made their decision based on the precedent of previous elections. Under the courts ruling, the entire VSA council along with the Judicial Board and all other elected officials have not been legitimately elected. During the fall election cycle of 2011, there was no mention of abstentions anywhere on the ballot or at any point during the voting process. As such, if the Judicial Board believes that the court is correct and chooses to enforce the court’s interpretation of “abstention” than the current judicial board would be inconsistently applying that definition.