Case closed: no runoff for SGA executive ticket

Gold and Blue vice-president-elect David Almansa (left) and president-elect Francesca Casanova (right). | From Blue and Gold FIU Instagram

Elise Catrion Gregg | Editor-in-Chief

After several days of waiting, the student government judicial branch has finally handed down an opinion on the highly-contested results of the 2024-25 election. 

In a seven-page opinion, justices interpreted the difference between the constitution and the statutes, ultimately deciding to keep the statutes, recommending some new definitions, but in this case deferring to the Constitution’s rules. 

Ultimately, it would mean no runoff for the executive ticket.

The Gold and Blue party originally won, with Francesca Casanova for president and David Almansa as her vice president.

PantherNOW reached out to Casanova via Instagram for comment.

“We are grateful that the justices worked hard to provide a clear and timely response to this issue,” Casanova wrote in response. “Our team is looking forward to the next steps and ready to work hard for the student body, together.”

PantherNOW also reached out via text to Casanova’s opponent, Santana Way of the Future is You party.

“I’m a little unhappy with the results,” said Way to PantherNOW during a phone call.

Casanova and Almansa won by a scant four votes. Under FIU SGA Statute 6009.2, the election could have fallen 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). 

The Future is You party filed a writ of interpretation on March 8, asking the justices to determine whether a runoff would be appropriate given the two seemingly conflicting laws. 

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

According to the opinion from justices, the main question was not which rule was correct, but when “to use runoff election procedure in relation to the 52% threshold of presidential tickets in SGAS 6009.2 versus the decision by plurality vote in SGAC 10.01.1.”

If justices had upheld the statute, a runoff would have been held, but repealing the statute – even partially – would totally remove runoff rules in the event of a future election with multiple candidates and threshold is needed even with plurality rules.  

Justices ultimately held that the Constitution had to be upheld for voting on plurality.

“The contradiction between the Constitution is settled by leaving both the Constitution and Statutes as is but including new definitions and statutes to be considered,” the opinion reads.”The Court cannot order the Elections Board to hold a runoff as plurality even with a 4-vote difference in a two-candidate race is what wins a general election.” 

Their rationale was that though the documents were written “in tandem” with the Constitution, the Constitution remains the “supreme law within FIU SGA.” 

The opinion includes several recommended definitions to be added to the statutes for the future though, as well as a suggested new rule for a minimum threshold. 

“The addition of Section 6009.3 now incorporates the minimum threshold of 50% + 1 majority for the sake of a two-candidate race,” the opinion reads. 

“This is because the 52% threshold is still seen as a maximum threshold so that when there are more than three candidates, the vote count is increasingly assured compared to a two-candidate race to avoid the likely common occurrence of a runoff thanks to how additional candidates can change the odds in necessary votes to win an election.”

As such, Gold and Blue party is the current official winner with Casanova and Almansa officially set to take office early May.

According to current SGA president Alexander Sutton, it’s the first time in the history of political parties at SGA that the ruling party has lost the election.

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