The Civics and Government Institute’s (CGI) Supreme Court was in session today to hear what many are calling “the trial of the century”: Bonesteel v. Internal Affairs Election Committee. With just two days to go before the scheduled inauguration of next year’s CGI president, students filled the LGI with anticipation of the verdict that could change last week’s runoff election results declaring junior Beth Connors the winner. Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision will determine whether or not Anna Bonesteel gets her desired re-vote.
Voting procedure irregularities are the basis for Bonesteel’s complaint against the Internal Affairs (IA) Election Committee, specifically the rights of absent students who were not able to vote in this extremely close election. Citing Article V, Section One, Item Two of the CGI Constitution, “the right of every student in CGI to vote in any relevant situation shall not be violated under any circumstances.”
Senior Izzy Levy represented Bonesteel today and delivered a powerful opening statement declaring, “With so much for CGI to decide, it is crucial that every single vote be counted. You will hear today that every vote was not counted, you will hear this from members of your community, your classmates who were denied their constitutional rights in the absence of any available procedure for a student who is not present in school on election day to exercise his or her right. Students conceived several ways to ensure their vote was counted, as one student attempted to vote in the only way he could think of, and was turned away…we must ensure that every student who wants to vote has the ability to do so under any circumstances. We face a crisis of sorts when we do not have rules and procedures to protect this constitutional right for all those who wish to exercise it.”
Several examples of voting irregularities were presented as evidence. Levy cited the case of one particular student who arrived to school late on election day and asked to cast a ballot after the general vote was taken and before the election results were announced. According to Elections Committee Chair Jenny Friedman, after consulting with Mr. Manos, a member of the CGI faculty who holds constitutional authority to regulate the actions of students, all members of IA excluding the Elections Committee members voted on whether or not to allow the vote. A majority decided that the student should be able to cast a ballot. Conversely, another student out on home instruction posted a message on Facebook prior to the election asking if and how he could cast a vote, and IA neglected to follow up with the student or to consult with Mr. Manos and attempt to write procedure in the same way that they did for the tardy student.
Representing the Elections Committee of the Internal Affairs Department, Chair Eve Feldberg adamantly defended the voting procedures, stating that they were followed to the letter and students acted on the orders of Mr. Manos. “There were some students who were aware of their absence who had time to request an absentee ballot, if such a ballot had existed, however their votes would not have changed the results of the election.”
Since election results were announced, the Internal Affairs Department has remained silent on the final vote count, apparently following instructions by Mr. Manos. The confidentiality of the tally has left the electorate wondering just how close the vote was. Previous reports from reliable sources indicated a 93-91 vote in favor of Beth Connors.
Following several witness testimonies, the Court decided to reconvene tomorrow to hear closing statements from both sides and then deliberate and deliver a decision. A late evening announcement by Chief Justice Nora Ellmann stated that the court would proceed in a closed session during 2nd period, with only media representatives present as the LGI is unavailable for the trial.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the “trial of the century.”