SGA to consider additional changes to election rules


Brian Hayes

Senators Michael Bearth, Walter Wright, and Courtney Wages listen as Vice President Breck Towner addresses senate during the February 7, 2018 meeting.

A proposed change to the student government elections was met with concerns from the student senate about timeliness and transparency Wednesday. 

In previous student government elections, candidates for student senate were either grouped with a presidential ticket or ran as write-in candidates. The proposed amendment would get rid of the tickets entirely.

Student Body Vice President Breck Towner said the amendment would encourage more people to run for positions and result in a more diverse student government.

“In the past, we’ve seen elections where there is two tickets and they all do a complete split and we have you versus them,” Towner said. “That’s something that we want to try to avoid and that’s something that this bill will do away with.”

The proposal comes one month before campaigning is set to begin. The deadline to file for SGA elections is March 14 and the election will take place April 2-4. 

The proposal will be voted on at next week’s SGA meeting.

Nancy Loosle, director of student involvement and SGA advisor, said she began working on the amendment last semester, along with Student Body President Paige Hungate and SGA Director of Operations Kylen Lawless.

Senators Eugene Potts, Hasan Raffi, Timothy Dodd, and Anisia Brumley raised questions pertaining to the timeliness and transparency of the proposal.

Potts, a liberal arts and sciences senator, asked why the senators weren’t previously informed about the proposal.

“If this was talked about last year, why are we just now hearing about it?” Potts said during the student senate meeting. “Something doesn’t feel right that it’s being brought up now but it’s been talked about behind closed doors for months.”

Hungate said senators had an opportunity to attend the meetings in which she, Loosle, and Lawless worked on the bill.

“It’s not so much that it was talked about behind closed doors,” Hungate said. “We were actively telling people we were working on that election bill and those were open meetings. Nobody attended.”

Addressing the delay between writing the bill and proposing it to the senate, Hungate said the student government cabinet decided to wait until the Elections Reform Act had passed to propose the additional amendment.

“We were already having 15 pages of an election bill so before adding another component, we wanted to wait until that first election bill passed,” Hungate said. “And, of course, it got delayed like a month and a half. We would have started working on it earlier had that passed earlier, but it didn’t.”

The Election Reform Act was first presented to the student senate in November. It ultimately passed on Jan. 17.

Under the proposal, candidates for president and their respective vice presidential candidates would remain on a single ticket. Senate candidates would still be able to associate with a particular party, but only their names and positions would appear on the ballot.

Sam Belsan and Terence Truong, co-chairs of last year’s election commission, spoke in favor of the proposal.

Belsan said, in addition to encouraging voters to vote based on the merits of individual candidates as opposed to an entire ticket, the bill would prevent instances of single candidates violating election rules from affecting the entire ticket.

“As election commissioner, it was hard at certain points last school year when one person would break a rule and we felt like we had to take 24 hours of campaigning away from the entire ticket, or things like that,” Belsan said.

Last year, the election commission suspended Hungate’s campaign following an election violation made by two members of her campaign ticket. The suspension was later overruled by the Supreme Court. 

Students Clayton Baughn, Ethan Kirby, Kareem Maryam, Josh Nichols, Ryan Siebuhr, and Alexis Thuston will make up the 2018-19 election commission. They were each confirmed at the Wednesday meeting. Nichols served on the election commission last year.