Following election campaign violations and voting issues in recent freshman Student Government Association elections, the new elections code came to pass in the Undergraduate House of Representatives (UHR) meeting held on Feb. 23. The UHR decided to pass new elections code. The change comes after a number of reported violations and voting issues concerning recent SGA elections.
“The biggest problem [we’ve run] into was how to deter people from violating the election code,” said Mike Donohue, second-year PUBP major and elections committee chair.
The code revisions quantify penalties as two percent of campaign budget or five percent of votes for minor violations and ten percent of campaign budget or 15 percent of votes for major violations.
“[I’m] not a fan of taking away votes. You’re not only punishing the person [whom] you’re taking votes from, but [you’re] also taking away student voice via votes, which is their right,” said Brenda Morales, third-year BCHM major and institute-wide committees chair in the Open Forum of the UHR meeting on Feb. 9 during SGA week.
However, taking away votes appears to be one of very few options for committee members.
“You’re not taking away individual votes. You’re not disenfranchising a particular voter. You’re taking away votes from the vote total, which, other than a budget [cut], is the only way the elections committee has any [power],” said Parul Kapur, second-year ME major and sophomore representative.
Another issue brought up was the definition of “campaign worker”, identifying cases where students not associated with a particular campaign cause a candidate’s violation of elections code.
“A big problem last year was the definition of a campaign worker. Clarifying this will help in allowing elections committee [to] decide what is or what is not a violation of election code,” said Austen Edwards, second-year PUBP major and UHR member-at-large.
However, lists of campaign workers run risks.
“On one hand, it would be great if we could have a list of campaign workers so we’d know,” said Parker Hancock, fourth-year EE major and executive vice president. According to Hancock, the possibility of candidates not turning in complete campaign worker lists arises.
“It falls on the candidates to just be aware of the campus, especially the executive candidates… They should be aware of their presence on campus,” Donohue said.
The elections committee also changed the electorate criteria, now defining voters by the number of completed semesters, while still defining transfer students by credit hours. Elections code previously defined all students by credit hour completion, which did not always align with the number of semesters spent at Tech.
“[The code] wasn’t very clear as to who could vote for whom. It was very clear who could run, but you had to do some interpretation to figure out who was voting for whom,” Donohue said.
The confusion associated with the code was also more of a technical problem, and the revisions have been handled by OIT.
The academic major representative criterion is still dependent on credit hours and current or prior enrollment in major classes.
“I think [the biggest concern] is making the penalties explicit. Before, a lot was left on the shoulders of the elections committee, and while there [have] always been great people on the committee, it’s not their responsibility to make those decisions,” Donohue said.
The elections code also sets the elections schedule for UHR and undergraduate student body president and vice president.
Application packets will be available March 1, campaigning begins March 28, and the second runoff election results will be announced April 26.