The Judiciary of the Undergraduate Student Government announced Friday that campaigning for elections is suspended until further notice.
“It is the decision of the Justice Department of the USG to suspend active campaigning beginning tomorrow, 3/26/2016 at 5:00 PM, until an elections board has been properly vetted and confirmed by senate,” a post on USG’s Facebook page read.
The Elections Board oversees the USG elections and makes sure the candidates are following bylaws.
Concerns about the Elections Board were brought up at the most recent USG meeting, where Sen. Maximillian Shaps said members of the Elections Board was never actually confirmed by the Senate.
“The Elections Board is basically illegitimate at this point and the results of the election could even be nullified,” USG President Cole Lee said. “This is unprecedented.”
Lee, who is running for re-election, went on to say that he knows the Judiciary is trying to hold up the integrity of organization, but the basic system of checks and balances does not usually lend itself to this committee making a decision like this.
“If voter turnout was lower because of this, that would be very unfortunate, but I don’t necessarily think so,” Lee said. “Since this never happened before, it might even generate more interest.”
Shaps, who is running for vice president of communications, said that the Judiciary’s decision sets a bad legal precedent.
“I personally view this as a massive overstep for the Judiciary because there’s nothing in the Constitution that gives the Judiciary the power to suspend campaigning or to enforce policy without a petition,” Shaps said. “It’s a tricky problem, but I think any legal solution is better than the Judiciary just doing what they believe is right.”
Elizabeth Osei, the chief justice of the USG Judiciary, is recused from the matter because she is running for president. Catherine Work, the acting chief justice of the Judiciary, did not return a phone call from The Statesman requesting a comment before the publication of this article.
USG is currently working on creating a special vetting committee made up of senators and Executive Council members who are not running in the elections to vet the members of the Elections Board, Shaps said. But he added that he did not know how long the vetting process would take.
Taylor Bouraad, the USG treasurer, said she will likely be on the committee, and she wants the vetting process to be done within a week.
“We’re in the middle of budgeting,” she said, referring to the process of allocating about $3 million in funds from the Student Activity Fee to the budgets of clubs, organizations and USG agencies for next year. “I’m going to push for this to be done quickly because if it’s not, this is going to affect budgeting. People tend to care more about elections than budgets.”
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: STONY BROOK UNIVERSITY UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT GOVERNMENT