COLLEGE
03/01/2012 11:13 am ET

University Of Texas Student Government Elections On Hold Due To Lawsuit

Students at the University of Texas are upset with student government election rules they helped write.

Student presidential candidate Madison Gardner, filed a lawsuit after he and his and running mate Antonio Guevara had their names were taken off the election ballot for appearing with Student Events Center presidential candidate Carissa Kelley in photos, videos, website banners and other campaign materials. It was a violation of the Election Code, which Gardner had a hand in crafting.

A judge in Travis County, Texas issued a restraining order on UT and its students, forcing them to postpone student government elections for at least two weeks. Gardner and Guevara claim their First Amendment rights are being violated in not being allowed on the ballot.

Other candidates pleaded with the court that they wouldn't be able to compete if the student government elections were forced to be postponed.

“If [the postponing] goes forward now it would severely impact the race,” said presidential candidate John Lawler at a hearing. “I don't have money to run another campaign. We feel if you grant this injunction you’re giving people who have the most money the [advantage]. You’'e favoring people who have the most time and resources that the typical student does not have."

The judge didn't bow to Lawler's pleas and issued the restraining order.

Gardner and Guevara said they tried to appeal to the student Judicial Court, but the four member judicial court voted to not hear the case.

Most of the other student government positions will still have their elections Thursday. However, the Daily Texan editorial board noted this could decrease participation in other elections.

The DT's editorial board is not happy about it, either.

"Gardner had ample opportunity through his previous involvement with SG to change parts of the election code he found objectionable," the editorial board wrote. "Of course, he never did. He even used some of its more obscure provisions to attack his opponents. However, soon after he was found guilty of violating the rules, he cried about it to anybody who would listen."

The University of Texas' student government elections has been an object of derision in recent years.

The Texas Travesty, a satire publication at the school, runs joke candidates in all student elections.
"Last year the Travesty ran Aaron Walther, who played a ruthless Soviet dictator that vowed to gouge out the eyes of students so that they could no longer peer into the inner workings of their leaders," Dan Treadway, a former UT student, wrote in March 2011. "The year before they ran Zak Kinnaird, a candidate whose platform didn't stretch beyond his need to pad his resume and the fact that he looked good in a suit."

It's quite serious, though, for the candidates who are unsure when students will get to cast their votes this year.

Gardner’s attorney argued in court this week that if Gardner and Guevara were kept off the ballot, it would deprive them of the opportunity to put the title "student body president" or "student body vice president" on their resumes. According to the Daily Texan, the attorney claimed this could potentially inhibit Gardner’s ability to eventually run for president of the United States.

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