For the second weekend in a row, the Undergraduate Student Government has convened for special hearings on alleged voter fraud in the 2016 undergraduate presidential elections.
The appellants, Sope Ladapo and Michael Thompson, sought to have their sanction points vacated by Supreme Court of Student Governance. Niki DaSilva and Bryor Scheper represented the USG elections committee in defense of their decision.
The hearing occurred at 8 a.m. in ET 202 and lasted about 50 minutes. While the venue for last week’s hearing reached capacity forcing students to listen from the hallway, this week’s venue was able to accommodate everyone. The results of the hearing will not be released until after a 48 hour period in which the court can deliberate.
After introductions by Chief Justice Eliut Justus, the appellees and appellants were given 20 minutes to argue their cases. The judges could question the speakers and refer to evidence and briefs provided by both parties.
One question the justices took a closer look at was what constitutes a disruption in the library. Ladapo said taking a picture or selfie is not disruptive in and of itself. Justus asked if Ladapo thought thought taking a picture with the flash on was disruptive and Ladapo said yes.
Thompson then addressed the court saying that turning the flash off is a simple matter and that he had taken a picture of the court while Ladapo was speaking and no one had noticed. He also showed a video featuring an IUPUI librarian explaining the library’s policy on disruptions and that no complaint of a disruption had been filed with the library.
One of Ladapo’s central arguments was the definition of campaigning. He explained that the signs shown in the pictures said “voted” not “vote” and that they were a statement of an act, rather than encouragement for others.
Thompson also brought up that he was not permitted to speak at last week’s hearing. DaSilva and Scheper explained that since his name was not on Ladapo’s reply brief, he could not speak. Thompson said that the infraction points being bundled together, despite separate complaints being filed, was unfair.
Scheper and DaSilva defended the committee’s actions by stating the complaints were evaluated individually but grouped together, because the infractions appeared to be habitual and points can be given in groups. DaSilva insisted that it was not a personal matter or vendetta, but the elections committee following proper procedure.
As to the fairness of the hearing, some had more faith than others.
“I think there’s definitely some errors where, like, I mean it was said at the beginning where the elections code needs to be clarified. But the system that we’ve got right now, they did a very good job,” USG Vice President Chaz Rhoutsong said.
When asked if the student body was adequately represented by the hearings, Ladapo responded with “no comment.”