SGA: Election process pondered

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SGA: Election process pondered

John Schuler/ Photo Editor

John Schuler/ Photo Editor

John Schuler/ Photo Editor

John Schuler/ Photo Editor

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Senators considered modifications to the SGA election process in anticipation of election season during the Student Government Association’s final meeting before the end of the year.

John Schuler/ Photo Editor

The main bill considered was identical to a bill passed at the end of the last semester, which amended the SGA constitution to bar executive board candidates from running on tickets in the annual SGA election, in addition to banning endorsements. Also on the agenda was a bill to form a task force with the intention of investigating and analyzing the election process at SLU.

A ticket is a group of executive-board-hopefuls that run as a named entity with a shared platform; Limitless was the most prominent and only full ticket last year, comprise of Blake Exline, Yiqing Huang, Keilah Johnson, Vidur Sharma, Richard Joubert, Sean Worley and Beth Alberty. The group swept the election.

Limitless’ highly uncontested run incited concern among SGA senators concerning the election process. Many senators thought the existence of tickets discouraged those who would otherwise run for positions, due to the intimidating power of united opposition.

Others also argued that tickets encourage people to vote on the basis of who shares a ticket rather than individual merit.

Opposition to the ban argued that tickets allow an executive board to have a unified vision and eliminating the ticket system provides no benefits to the student body. The bill passed, but former President Matt Ryan vetoed the bill before the conclusion of the 2011-2012 SGA General Assembly.

Sen. Kunjan Patel and Senator Emeritus Jimmy Mieners presented the bill to senate.

There was a lengthy discussion about the endorsements targeted by the bill. Multiple senators saw barring public endorsements coming from current executive board members as a violation of free speech. Mieners insisted that the issue was not free speech, but the application of public clout to tilt elections in favor of one candidate or another. Patel argued further that it wasn’t preventing the executive board from giving their opinions should someone ask them in a private manner.

“Of course you can ask the past presidents what they think,” Patel said. “You can ask the opinion, but [the President is] not officially endorsing anyone.”

Multiple senators opposed the bill on the grounds that there wasn’t enough time to talk about the specifics of the election process and work out amendments based on more concrete study and analysis.

Most senators felt that the timing was inappropriate given the fast-approaching election season.

Executive board candidates will be finalized by Jan. 23, which will be the next opportunity for Senate to vote the changes in to the constitution.

“I think the issues that we’re trying to talk about can be fixed through the election commissioner packet,” Sen. Dylan Jones said, though he supported the intention of the bill. Jones suggested that one way to eliminate the issue with people voting for ticket as opposed to individual candidate could be removing the ticket name from the voting screen during elections. The bill failed with 1 in favor, 16 against and 11 abstaining.

Following the failure was a resolution to form a task force focused on the SGA election process.

Exline, the author of the resolution, felt a well-balanced task force would be able to provide real time analysis of the election process as it plays out next semester.  The resolution passed with 1 against and 1 abstaining.