SGA to vote on bill that would reduce size of Election Commission


Selena Favela

At-Large Sen. Grant Day raises his hand to ask a question during Student Government Association’s Nov. 20 meeting, where senators discussed a bill to make changes to the annual student fees process. Day also represents the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences on this year’s Student Fees Committee.

The Student Senate is set to vote Wednesday on a bill that would reduce the size of the Election Commission, the governing body responsible for administering student elections each spring.

The bill, authored by the Student Government Association Ways and Means Committee, was presented for a first read at the senate’s Nov. 20 meeting. Aside from reducing the number of committee positions, it would also adjust compensation for election commissioners if passed.

The bill is aimed at improving the “productivity and effectiveness” of the commission.

“We felt like there wasn’t enough work to go around,” said Underserved Sen. Hanna Ezell, who co-authored the bill. “A lot of people who were on the commission would maybe do something for the first week and then not do anything for the rest of however long the commission lasted.”

Under the bill, the regulations commissioner, election events commissioner, and marketing commissioner positions would be removed and their responsibilities would be designated across the three remaining positions.

“We have commissioner for regulations — their job was basically to make sure that no one’s, like, cheating in elections and, honestly, there wasn’t much to do for them,” said Liberal Arts and Sciences Sen. Rija Khan, another of the bill’s co-authors. “So, their job is being given to the deputy chief commissioner, as they don’t have a lot on their plate compared to the chief commissioner, who is basically doing the majority of the work.”

Responsibilities of the marketing and election events commissioners would be added to the outreach commissioner’s workload.

If passed, the bill would also change the payment of election commissioners from a lump sum to an hourly rate during general elections. Each election commissioner would make the federal minimum wage, $7.25 per hour.

The chief election commissioner, elected by a two-thirds majority of commissioners, would be responsible for 15 hours per week during an election period. The deputy chief and election outreach commissioners would each be responsible for 10.

Under current guidelines in SGA’s Legislative Journal, the chief election commissioner receives $400 for their work and each other voting commissioner receives $250.

“Honestly, $400 is not a lot to work an election for three months,” Khan said.

SGA Co-Advisor Gabriel Fonseca would be responsible for tracking each election commissioner’s hours.

The bill would not change compensation for election commissioners during special elections: $50 for the chief and $25 for each other voting member.

Out-of-State Sen. Michael Brown, last year’s chief election commissioner, co-authored the bill after raising concerns about the process.

Along with annual elections for the student body president and senate, the commission also oversees special elections, which are held to fill vacant positions or present Legislative Journal amendments that require approval from the larger student body.

The body also organizes annual student election debates.

If approved, the changes will not go into effect for the upcoming general student elections, which will be held in April 2020. The changes would not take place until next school year, Fonseca said, because SGA cannot adjust compensation in the middle of a fiscal year.