2024 SGA Elections: Wins, Losses and Possible Draws

another election2024-2025 Election winners, with newly elected President Francesca Casanova and Vice President David Almansa in the center. | Alexander Luzula, PantherNOW

Alexander Luzula and Elise Gregg | Assistant News Director

After a contentious election season filled with allegations and campaign violations, FIU’s student body turned out between March 5 and 6 to vote for next year’s executives and senators – with another election possibly on the horizon.

After two days of voting, Francesca Casanova and David Almansa of the Gold and Blue Party were named as FIU’s next President and Vice President, respectively. Jabari Baptiste, of the Future is You Party, took the position of Governor of the Biscayne Bay Campus. The results for the executive and legislative elections were announced on March 8 at the Graham Center Pit.

However, the race may not be over – despite Casanova being named as the next president, the votes were extremely close. 

Casanova received 1,341 (50.07) votes compared to Santana Way, who received 1,337 (49.93%), according to 2023 – 24 President Alexander Sutton –  a mere four-vote difference. 

In total, 3,078 students voted out of the over 50,000 students at the university, according to elections commissioner Melanie Montes. By that number, it would appear as though 400 students did not for Way or Casanova, with a margin for error.

Under FIU SGA Statute 6009.2, the election may fall within the margin necessary for a run-off – candidates would need to meet a threshold of 52% to win the general election. 

The constitution states that a simple plurality is needed for the general elections, creating a discrepancy between the two rules (10.01.1). 

On the evening of March 8, The Future Is You Party, which was backing Way, filed a writ with the student Supreme Court to interpret the differences between the constitution and the statutes. Way confirmed this with PantherNOW on Saturday, March 9. 

While the writ asks the court to “decide the validity between the two codes to determine the possible upcoming procedures regarding this election cycle” it also urgently requests “that the court also order the Elections Board to hold this runoff election.” 

The writ argues that by just announcing the results, the election board was not in line with the statutes, and they should have originally scheduled the runoff, to be “held seventy-two (72) hours following the announcement of election results.”

It adds that “if elections were simply decided by plurality, any runoff procedures would therefore

become irrelevant, further contradicting SGAS 6009.2.”

According to Chief Justice Mia Rodriguez, it may not be so black and white. 

“What the Constitution and statutes are meant to do is complement one another,” Rodriguez told PantherNOW. “It’s just stating and setting up what the statutes can further extend.” 

Though Rodriguez said the writ was well-argued, the judicial branch may not come to such a clear-cut conclusion after their meeting on March 11. 

Further, Rodriguez clarified that it’s a writ of interpretation – not one of appeal. Though the filers are requesting that it lead to a runoff vote, the court will not hand that order down, regardless of the result. 

“It’s merely an interpretation, and the elections board must respect our interpretation,” said Rodriguez, though the filers can use that interpretation by the judicial branch as the basis for arguing further for a runoff. 

Rodriguez further emphasized that it’s not a blanket dichotomy of runoff versus repealing the statute.

“I’ve been told you either say it’s a runoff election or you repeal the statute, and that is not true,” said Rodriguez. “Because if you repeal the statute that’s been passed, you also remove runoff.” 

Ultimately, a judgment favorable to the filers may result in a runoff, meaning students would vote again to decide between Way and Casanova. 

The writ argues that based on the 72-hour rule, “the runoff election should be run on Wednesday at around 12:30.” 

Justices are expected to issue an opinion on Tuesday at the earliest. 

Francesca Casanova was reached out by PantherNOW but unavailable for comment.

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