The decision by a student government’s judiciary body, which ruled in favor of the recently-elected senior class president, agreed disqualification was not necessary for the violations present during the president’s campaign.
The Student Judiciary originally heard this case April 22. In the hearing, University of Wisconsin senior Ryan Hughes said “corrupted” Senior Class President Elect Joseph Meeker won his position only after hanging posters in violation of election rules.
Hughes filed a complaint against Meeker shortly after the conclusion of the spring 2013 elections, Chief Justice Nicholas Checker said in an email to The Badger Herald.
Checker said Hughes argued Meeker placed a number of posters on building columns of the Mosse Humanities Building and on a City of Madison light pole. He said these actions are a clear violation of Election Rule 14 that requires “all state, city and university rules regarding campaigning to be followed.”
In the meeting earlier this month, Hughes said he noticed about six or eight posters on building columns in the Humanities Building in addition to the single poster placed on a City of Madison light post. In the meeting, he said this violation of election rules gave Meeker an “unfair advantage.”
These are common election complaints, Vice Chief Justice Kenny Ho said in an email to The Badger Herald. He said the judiciary often sees one or two complaints per election.
However, Checker said this is the first year in his tenure in which a complaint was filed against a class officer while there were no complaints filed against any Associated Students of Madison candidate.
Though Meeker’s election violations warrant his disqualification, the judiciary found his violations to not be severe enough to do so, according to the decision.
On the judiciary’s ruling, Checker said the panel found Meeker’s explanation of oversight to be satisfactory. He said Meeker maintains the presence of other posters on the light pole as well as on the Humanities Building column led him to mistakenly conclude it was fine to post his posters in those spaces.
“While election violations are taken seriously with the judiciary, the judiciary here found this poster violation did not constitute disqualification,” Ho said.
“The panel felt Mr. Meeker did not intend to break the rules and that his violations were understandable oversights given his argument that others posted on these restricted areas as well,” Checker said. “Effective ignorance of the rules was an excuse because of this.”
Meeker must complete a brochure outlining the rules of the election and certain rules and things to look out for, according to Ho. He said these are the same specifications required in the Student Election Commission vs. BOOP hearing involving alleged violations during ASM elections from last year.
Failure to complete this brochure by 5 p.m. May 6 will result in Meeker’s disqualification, according to Checker.
The decision stated the Student Election Commission will make the wording for the rules regarding the hanging of posters “less vague” and will go into effect for the next ASM elections.
Both Meeker and Huges did not respond to comment.