Due to an unconstitutional ruling by the UT Student Government’s Student Judicial Council, only one set of candidates will appear on the 2018 SG ballot for president and vice president – current Vice President Drew Williams and Senator Sofie Rodriguez.
The ruling came after the non-partisan Election Board voted to extend the date of a mandatory meeting in violation of the SG constitution to allow Senators Dhuval Bhakta and Hassan Quershi to run for president and vice president, said Kyle Zapadka, speaker of the Senate and chair of the Election Board.
The board’s decision amended the election manual and allowed the senators to submit the required paperwork a day later than the manual outlined, he said.
The Election Board held two meetings, and at both meetings the board voted to extend the date from Feb. 15 to Feb. 16.
“However, it was our own ignorance to the election manual – that we wrote – and the constitution that caused [Bhakta and Quershi] to be ineligible,” Zapadka said. “SJC ruled those meetings invalid.”
Because these meetings were invalid, the two could not run on the executive ballot.
SJC also said that the election manual states that “ignorance of the election manual is not an excuse,” Zapadka said.
“We tried to give leeway to run for president and vice president, and we violated our own rules,” he said.
Both Bhakta and Quershi said they will support Williams and Rodriguez as president and vice president.
The two executive candidates want to continue current SG President Jimmy Russell’s policies but also expand their own.
“We are trying to work on mental health services and improving them,” Williams said. “On top of that we really want to connect UT with downtown [via the TARTA].”
The two candidates also want a student discount program at bars, restaurants and coffee shops downtown as well, he said.
Unlike the executive ballot, the senatorial ballot will have many more candidates; however, these too are uncontested elections, Zapadka said.
“This year we have 24 people running,” he said. “However, this is uncontested because we need 27 to do that.”
To encourage more candidates to run in contested elections, the presidential signature requirements were reduced to 500 signatures, and the legislative signatures required from 400 to 200, Zapadka said.
A “Snack ‘n Chat” will be held in lieu of a debate this year for students to “chat” with their legislative and executive candidates on Friday, March 16 from noon to 2 p.m. in Student Union room 2592.