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Friday, June 2, 2023

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SGA Supreme Court orders new election


Pink ballot box reading "SGA 60th Administration" with ballot going inside.

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

A new Student Government Association election will soon be held after a 5-2 ruling from the Supreme Court decided that the previous election week was unfair to some students.

A hearing was held Monday night, just days after Benjamin Rizk with Students Unite won the presidency, along with an overwhelming majority of Senate seats.

“The majority agrees with ForTheStudents that the Chief Election Commissioner or anyone from the Election Commission needs to send a mass email to inform the student body of a new election that will take place,” said Chief Justice Eddie Muñoz III.

Current SGA President Joshua Martin and ForTheStudents contested the results due to errors with Get Involved, which temporarily prevented freshman and transfer students from voting.

While the court recognizes the issue through Get Involved “was the fault of the University,” they also believe that the additional steps noneligible students had to complete created an unfair opportunity.

“I base my vote on the fact, and the fact is that the election commission was negligent in this year’s election and students at the University of Houston deserve to have their voices heard,” said Associate Justice Laura Rincon.

In order to vote, freshman and other noneligible students had to fill out an online form with their Cougarnet information and wait for an email that said they are now able to vote.

ForTheStudents argued that those students were still unable to vote despite Election Commissioner Tochi Okoli saying all students who wanted to were given the chance to vote.

“If the student did not cast their ballot, but the commissioner stated they did, it would be considered voting fraud because the student did not have a right to vote the first time, which goes against equal opportunity,” Muñoz said.

The dates of the new election are up to the Election Commission, and the Court ruled their decision as final and unable to be appealed.

“ForTheStudents presented an inaccurate case, which I will be sure to further explain in a court opinion, but the ruling has nothing to do with time spent in parties that are seen as adjacent,” said Associate Justice Tyler Garrett.

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