Mike Linn: CNJ news editor
With family in Palm Beach County, Fla., I was sure I’d seen it all regarding elections after 2000, when hanging chads and butterfly ballots made more news than Michael Jordan and Barry Bonds combined.
But last week a new stream of election chaos shook the quiet campus of Eastern New Mexico University, where a student election board took away the most basic rights of 159 Eastern students.
Through no fault of their own the students who cast their vote for Fabian Guzman in Eastern’s student body election last week had their votes deemed null and void on Monday.
The Student Supreme Court late Thursday night overruled the election board’s decision to disqualify Guzman, and the students who voted for Guzman had their votes counted.
Eastern Election Board Chairwoman Amanda Pritchard did not return a phone call placed to her home on Thursday seeking comment.
Guzman said on Thursday some 260 Eastern students have signed a petition seeking a re-election based on a myriad of issues surrounding the election: Guzman said poll workers were supposed to be trained the day before the election on a data entry program that went haywire the day after the election; and Student Attorney General Heather Sellers should have signed off on the election board’s decisions after the election went south (Florida style).
“The goal of all the candidates was to try to get voter turnout. If they leave it like it is without a re-election they’re going to create a lot of mistrust and it’s going to be harder for students to trust the student government to make the right choice…” Guzman said.
Senior Tina Brown, who said she voted for Guzman, had this to say: “I am very upset … but I know that most of the students on the supreme court will make the right decision and will look at things fairly.”
Brown said on Saturday the Student Supreme Court hadn’t made a decision on whether there will be a re-vote, something she supports given the potpourri of issues that marred the election.
The election board decided to disqualify Guzman after an e-mail sent to Hispanic students named him as a candidate. However, Guzman said earlier this week he neither authorized nor knew about the e-mail.
Hmmm…Let me think here. Add the two, carry the one, multiply by … OK got it: If you want to become Eastern’s president just ask a friend to send an e-mail promoting the other candidate, without the election board’s approval of course. The other candidate — even though he didn’t sign off on the e-mail — would be disqualified, for a week anyway.
Addios. Sayonara. Arrivederci.
Thankfully, the Student Supreme Court bailed the election board out of a hairy situation.
Given the circumstances, the election board’s decision to disqualify Guzman didn’t affect the election: Guzman placed behind Incumbent President Bob Cornelius (217 votes) and newly elected President Brett Trembly (278 votes).
But the board’s decision took away the 159 votes cast for Guzman. In essence, the election board was punishing the voters, not Guzman.
Mike Linn is news editor for the Clovis News Journal. Contact him at 763-6991 or by e-mail: