Changes made to SGA elections

Year-old changes to the undergraduate elections code and the SGA constitution will take effect this April, which means that the upcoming spring elections will feature joint tickets for President and Executive Vice President. This will mark the first time in the history of the undergraduate SGA elections that presidential and vice-presidential candidates will run on the same ticket.
Last April, undergraduate voters overwhelmingly passed a referendum that amended the SGA Constitution. The referendum provided for the creation of a new position, Speaker of the House, that would assume nearly all of the legislative duties previously assumed by the Executive Vice President. Five months later, the UHR amended the elections code and merged the voting process for the President and Vice President.
“Now that we have a Speaker of the House position, the Vice President is free to take on many, many more executive branch initiatives and projects,” said Undergraduate Executive Vice President Brenda Morales. “It’s important that the President and Vice President run on the same ticket so that the President can essentially choose who he or she will work with.”
The changes were undertaken for other pragmatic reasons.
“We could run into a situation where a president runs, wanting to institute certain initiatives, and a vice president runs, wanting to institute a separate set of initiatives,” said Undergraduate Student Body President Corey Boone. “This would create gridlock among the executive cabinet.”
Last April’s referendum significantly expanded the executive focus of the Vice President, which made scenarios like this a potential concern. Under the old Constitution, however, the Vice President had much less executive clout.
“When I was running for Vice President, I was very hesitant to talk about executive matters—even though I operate within the executive branch,” Morales said. “Even though there were certain projects and initiatives I could take on as Vice President, I left it to whoever was elected to set the agenda.”
Some of the rules and regulations governing the campaign will also change. Before, campaign finance regulations capped spending at $300 for both presidential and vice-presidential campaigns. As amended, current regulations now cap spending at $500 for any joint ticket—effectively decreasing total possible spending.
According to Chibueze Ihenacho, chair of the undergraduate elections committee and a second-year ISyE, the format of the executive debate will also change. Although it is traditionally held in front of the Campanile, ongoing construction on the Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons and on the Campanile itself rules it out as an option. More importantly, this year’s debate will include both the presidential and vice-presidential candidates from each ticket.
“Two people can impact a broader audience,” Ihenacho said. “I think you’ll see more focused campaigns. I think you’ll see more aggressive campaigns. It should make for really interesting strategy changes, and students will see that.”
Many believe that single tickets will improve the dialogue of the campaign.
“I didn’t publicly align myself with any of the candidates last year, so I really had to stick to things that, as Executive Vice President, were unique to my role,” Morales said. “But if the President and Vice President have the same platform and issues they want to address, the Vice President can take part in that creation of a vision.”
“It is a good, positive step forward,” Boone said. “I do hope that it will engage more students and allow them to feel more a part of the process because they will be able to elect a unified ticket.”
SGA application packets will be available on March 2nd, campaigning begins on March 27th and polls open on April 8th.


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