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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Excluded candidate added to SGA ballot

Supreme Court finds “abuse of power”
Sean Reed
Student Government Association Supreme Court Justices Tyler Murray (from left), Elliot Weiskopf and Maximilian Jarmula listen to complainant Ethan Pesavento’s remarks Monday. The Court heard Pesavento’s complaint of being excluded from the ballot, to which the court ruled in his favor. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

DeKALB – The Student Government Association Supreme Court heard an appeal from a student who claimed he was unfairly excluded from the ballot for the spring SGA election. The justices deliberated for three hours – to the minute – before they reached a verdict.

Elliot Weiskopf, the court’s chief justice, shared that the court ruled unanimously in favor of the candidate being added to the ballot, citing the election commissioner created a two-tiered timeline standard for candidates participating in the election.

Ethan Pesavento, a sophomore operations management and information systems major, intended to run for treasurer on the “NIU United” ticket in the election before being excluded from the ballot.


Pesavento’s complaint, read by Weiskopf, stated Pesavento was unable to attend a candidate meeting during the week of Feb. 26. Pesavento excused himself from campus for the week, citing a bomb threat on Barsema Hall, which was cleared at 11:25 a.m. the same day.

“We had reached out to commissioner Bereolos and had asked that, you know, if there’s anything we can do to, you know, work around this, and he had granted me an extension to. It was March 6,” Pesavento said in his argument.

The respondent, Elections Commissioner Niko Bereolos, explained he had not been contacted by Pesavento until March 3, two days after the deadline to submit the necessary paperwork to be included on the ballot.

SGA Elections Commissioner Niko Bereolos sits at the hearing on Monday in Altgeld Hall. Bereolos served as the respondent to the complaint about Ethan Pesavento’s exclusion from the SGA election ballot. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

Bereolos cited Part II, Article I, Subsection D of the SGA bylaws, which states, “candidates’ registration shall close the Friday two weeks prior to the start of spring recess, and the ballot shall be announced no later than the Wednesday prior to spring recess.”

SGA staff held 11 candidate meetings between Feb. 2 and Feb. 26, none of which Pesavento attended prior to his absence from campus, according to Bereolos.


Though Pesavento did not attend the meetings, the court found Bereolos abused his power by providing a make-up candidate meeting for Pesavento on March 3. Further, the court determined Bereolos contradicted himself by using the meeting as evidence to exclude him from the ballot during a special board of elections meeting.

“This problematic provision that grants unilateral decision making and ‘final say on all election proceedings,’ as laid out in Part II, Article II, Section II of the SGA bylaws, is a usurpation of the checks and balances of our governmenting documents and should be reviewed by the senate of the Student Government Association,” Wieskopf said in the verdict.

Online voting remains open for the election through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, along with in-person voting through 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Holmes Student Center near the OASIS space.

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