SGA Judicial Board rules President-elect Madeline Martin was eligible for disqualification


CW / Caroline Simmons

President-elect Madeline Martin speaks at the presidential debate on March 6, 2022.

Grace Schepis | @GraceSchepisCW, Staff Reporter

Almost a month after the Student Government Association elections, the University does not have an official SGA president. 

Madeline Martin is the unofficial president-elect, but the SGA postponed her confirmation — which should have happened three days after the election on March 11 — until the Judicial Board could review an appeal of a complaint against Martin’s campaign.

The SGA Judicial Board met on March 23, and ordered that since Martin’s campaign received 12 infraction points, she is eligible for consideration of disqualification by the Elections Board. 

This ruling, signed by Chair of the Panel and Associate Justice David E. Ware, was obtained by The Crimson White but has not been publicly released.

Martin declined to comment until the ruling is made public. 

At the time of publication, Judicial Board Chief Justice Matthew Curl has not responded to multiple requests for an update. The decision was originally expected on March 23. 

The Elections Board will complete its review of the case and finalize a decision by Monday, April 4, at noon. The Elections Board has sole discretion in this matter, and its decision will be final. 

The initial complaint

On March 4, four days before the election, SGA presidential candidate Sarah Shield’s campaign team filed a complaint against Martin for undocumented spending before the campaign period began. 

Shield’s campaign team reported Martin for spending $969.38 on notebooks at the Northport Office Depot on Feb. 1, before campaigning began — a “major violation” in the SGA elections manual. These notebooks outlined her campaign platform and exceeded the $750 spending limit for presidential candidates. 

The Elections Board dismissed the initial complaint against Martin on March 7, and told The Crimson White in an email that the elections manual is ambiguous on purchasing materials ahead of a campaign. Insufficient evidence, the Elections Board wrote, could not lead to a charge against Martin. 

The Elections Board recommended that the SGA clarify any language on the matter ahead of the next election cycle. 

Following the Elections Board’s dismissal, Shield’s campaign manager, Garrett Burnett, appealed the decision, and the appeal was sent to the Judicial Board.

The Judicial Board hearing 

“As the booklets in question included Ms. Martin’s picture, name, and signature; the presiding members of the Elections Board decided unanimously the booklets be classified as campaign materials,” the Judicial Board ruling read. 

Originally, the Elections Board issued a  three-point minor violation to Martin’s campaign for exceeding the spending limit. The Judicial Board overruled this, and replaced the violation with an intermediate one, as the overspending “had the potential to impact the outcome of the election.” 

The Judicial Board also amended the minor violation for failure to report spending to an intermediate one. 

The upgrade to an intermediate violation, of both the overspending and failure to report spending, added an additional six points to Martin’s campaign, bringing her violation points to 12, which prompted the need for final review by the Elections Board. 

“I’m glad that the Student Judiciary rightfully imposed the penalty points against Madeline Martin,” Shield said. “However, it’s extremely disappointing to me that the Elections Board initially failed to recognize the severity of Madeline’s infractions. I have very little faith in the Elections Board moving forward.”