Election Board – W-10-03
3/9/10 at 6:10 PM
Trial Opinion, Election Board
Margaret McKinney v. Election Director
Kate Stenvig and Sophia Bolanos as Petitioners.

Before Sagar Deshpande (Election Director)

Margaret McKinney turned in an application to become a candidate for the W-10 Election. Upon attempting to verify her application, it was found that she was not an enrolled student for the current term according to current registrar data. As she was granted conditional applicant status, she was given the opportunity to petition her case for candidacy. As the petitioner, McKinney has the Burden of Persuasion to prove that she was an enrolled student, as per the Code (V. E. 1. a. vi.).

Petitioners’ Case:

The petition argued that the legislation was ex post facto, and therefore violated the US Constitution. Further, it argued that the barring of McKinney was violating the First Amendment as it targeted them for their beliefs. Next, it cites the MSA Constitution, saying “The Assembly shall consist of currently enrolled students or students who were enrolled in the previous term” (Article IV). Lastly, it argues that a variety of personal and financial factors may influence an individual’s status as a student, which should be used as considerations in the annulment of this rule. The petition states:
Margaret McKinney was an enrolled student in the Fall 2009 term. Therefore, she is eligible to run for MSA in accordance with the MSA Constitution and the Compiled Code. It is therefore both proper and in accordance with the Constitution and Code to accord Margaret McKinney unconditional confirmation as a candidate.

The Election Director ruled that as Margaret McKinney did not provide sufficient evidence for her enrollment, she could not be afforded candidate status. First, financial / personal concerns are regrettable and troubling, but cannot be used as a determination for eligibility in student government. Second, the “ex post facto” nature of this ruling cannot be determined by the Election Director, as he has not the familiarity necessary with Constitutional Law to make a proper ruling, and could not in good faith make a determination in that matter. If the petitioners wish to pursue that avenue, they should appeal this decision to CSJ. Next, the Election Director finds the argument of First Amendment rights irrelevant, as he has neither personal knowledge of the petitioner nor her beliefs.
Lastly, and most importantly, he finds that the petitioners have misinterpreted the MSA Constitution when it states “The Assembly shall consist of currently enrolled students or students who were enrolled in the previous term.” This section does not discuss the election, but the assembly. This election is for students to take part in the Fall 2010 Assembly. As such, by this reading, Assembly members must be composed of individuals enrolled in either Fall 2010 or the previous term, Winter 2010. As the petition itself concedes that McKinney was enrolled only in Fall 2009 but not in Winter 2010, McKinney is ineligible to become an Assembly Representative, and as such has no standing to apply for candidacy in the election.

Sagar Deshpande
Election Director