From the Archives, Dec. 3 1982: ‘Fall Senate elections may be invalidated’

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by John Fridrich

The ASUA Senate elections held in September, which saw a record number of students cast ballots, could be invalidated if actions taken by the newly appointed member of the student Supreme Court take effect.

Joseph St. Sauver confirmed, a long with three other justices at a November 21 meeting of the Senate, brought several discrepancies he noticed regarding the elections to the attention of the Senate in a show cause order issued November 29.

Citing various appropriate sections of the ASUA Rules and Regulations St. Sauver stated in his show cause order that the elections should be invalidated because a copy of the proposed ballot was not published in the Polar Star issue immediately preceding the voting and the election was not conducted before the conclusion of the third week of scheduled classes.

However, in a related matter, Senator Carmen Kocinski has pointed out in a memo to the Executive Council, that the Constitution requires two nominations for each Supreme Court seat, a procedure which was not followed in selecting St. Sauver and the other three Justices.

“As a concerned representative of the Students of the University of Alaska, I would like to see the Student Government follow the regulations set in the A.S.U.A constitution. I am sure this may have been an oversight of procedure, but now the process will have to be done correctly,” Kocinski states in his memo.

St. Sauver said the Senate suspended the rules cited by Kocinski, who did not attend the meeting in question, following properly mandated procedures. ASUA President John DiBene said if ordered to invalidate the election, he will not do so because the Justices are not elected by the student body and have authority only to judicate matters brought to the Court’s attention by students, not to initiate any proceedings themselves. “The Court might be trying to define its jurisdiction,” he said, but the Executive branch will continue to recognize the existence of the Senate.

In response, St. Sauver claims that Justices are a “party in interest,” and as ASUA members, invested with the same rights to raise issues [sic] asany other student.

“The Constitution will be upheld as written,” St. Sauver said this week. Invalidation of the election results would nullify any actions taken so far this year by the Senate, according to St. Sauver, including expenditure of funds, which he has said he would freeze.

“Yes he (St. Sauver) does have a case–if you consider the ASUA Constitution a binding document,” said John Alfonsi, Senate Affairs committee chairman, responsible for conducting the elections. “I have to question if the supreme Court can freeze funds. In any event, if they try to do that–it’s the Cost Center Clerk who controls the funds.”

Cost Center Clerk Charon Davis, a full-time university employee and better known as the ASUA secretary, said she doesn’t control the funds or spend anyone’s money for them. Ms. Davis said her job is to insure that money in the ASUA budget is spent for what [sic] if was intended, following the university’s accounting procedures.

Several Senate members have questioned St. Sauver’s authority to “declare the election null and void,” objecting on the grounds that an individual Justice, acting alone, can not rule on court matters. No statute in the Constitution specifically addresses whether or not a Justice may deliver opinions or act in any official capacity alone. St. Sauver said the other Justices, Karl Thoennes, Elaine Saney and Norm Davis, were not willing to sign the show cause order. Attempt to contact other Justices for their comments were unsuccessful.

Unless ASUA responds satisfactorily to the how cause order within 14 days from its November 29 date, “the Fall semester 1982 ASUA Senate elections shall be null and void due to procedural and substantive deficiencies noted…”

Due to procedural problems presented by an invalidated election, St. Sauver recommends that ASUA President John DiBene declare the election null and void, then appoint the Senators elected in September to fill the vacated positions. Following that procedure, the Senate could legally certify actions it has taken since September, including the appointment of Supreme Court Justices. In light of the actions of the Supreme Court has taken, St. Sauver also said the recently appointed Justices should be recertified as well.

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