Letter to the Editor: SGA Elections Board Squashes Another Political Party

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Christopher Zegarra/ Reform Party Vice President

Despite being eligible under the SGA governing documents, the Elections Board denied the formation of the Reform Party due to possible political bias and a lack of transparency.

We created our party to fix the many flaws and inefficiencies of SGA’s lack of student outreach.

The Reform Party seeks to do just that: to reform the way SGA has been run and fix the system which is supposed to serve all of FIU’s students, not just a select few. We applied with a more than qualified slate of candidates for SGA to ensure this could take effect after the elections.

After the registration period for political parties, we received an email from the SGA elections board commissioner saying the Elections Board denied the Reform Party’s application, despite meeting the base requirements. Parties are to submit a party constitution, a party platform, a tentative slate of members, and the contact information for a party chair, which we did. The decision came from the Elections Board, whose members are appointed by the Future Is You Party.

Jorge Jaramillo, party chair, received an email from Panther Connect on the Elections Party Registration form confirming their submission on January 21. The deadline to submit is on Friday, February 11.

Our party chair, Jorge Jaramillo, received the email from the board saying that the Reform Party was denied participation in the upcoming elections “due to the fact that the slate document does not meet the requirements of Code 6003.10 in the Elections Code.”

That code states for a political party to be considered qualified and registered, “it must maintain no less than fifteen (15) seats for an election…” Since the election has not started yet, the slate of the Reform Party has not violated this code since Section 6014.21 defines the “date of registration for the election” as “the first date registration opens for the election in question.” It is important to note that this section defines an election by the dates students vote for their preferred candidates.

Nonetheless, if we did have to include a full slate of candidates, at least 15 candidates, the Panther Connect Political Party Registration form did not include that information. This could lead all other attempts of creating a political party to ultimately fail because of the lack of information, allowing for possible misinformation given to other political party applicants.

In years prior, if your party faced an issue like this, you could appeal this decision to the Supreme Court, which ultimately decides whether or not the Elections Board made a  mistake on the decision for an application. But, SGA leadership did not appoint justices. This not only affects us, but it has also left other potential political parties unable to appeal similar decisions, leaving the Elections Board to have an ultimate rule on the matters of elections.

The email also falsely claims that the Reform Party application did not meet the Codes 6004.1.10 and 6004.1.11 in the SGA Statutes. 

Panther Connect Elections Party Registration submission portal.

Code 6004.1.10 states political parties “must file all registration documents with the Elections Board on or before the deadline date and time designated by the Elections Board,” which was done on time through the Panther Connect registration form.

Moreover, Code 6004.1.11 says a party must submit “all required documentation to the election’s commissioner during the registration period” to be considered valid. The Reform Party did this on time through the form provided by said commissioner.

Other Codes in the SGA governing documents state the Reform Party can participate in this semester’s election. Code 6003.9 says a political party shall include only a “tentative slate of electable members for the party,” rather than a definitive list of who is with the party until the election. Despite the SGA governing documents showing that the Reform Party is eligible for registration. The Elections Board decided to block our chance to participate in the 2022 election as a political party.

We are very disappointed with the decision made by the Elections Board to deny our application. There are holes in the application and approval process. This is an alarming issue for us and all others who may have applied to form political parties of their own. In our opinion, this should be dealt with urgently as the deadline for SGA election candidates is on Friday, February 11.

We wish to resolve this issue as soon as possible to allow for fair competition and clear guidelines in the SGA elections. However, the Elections Board does not seem interested in having either.

Christopher Zegarra

Reform Party Vice President

The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

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