Freshmen and transfer students will be able to vote for their representatives in the Student Assembly elections today in a voting process that takes place over the next 48 hours. The S.A. has set up online elections for four of its spots, three for freshmen representatives and one for transfer students. There are 12 candidates for the freshmen spots and four for the transfer student spots.
The S.A. made significant changes to the elections process this year in response to various problems in last spring’s elections. One of those problems included campaign rules that the S.A. believed allowed for “too much discretion” according to Josh Katcher ’06, student trustee and director of elections.
“This fall, we successfully redrafted the election rules,” Katcher said. “Some people have felt that the S.A. was going downhill in terms of legitimacy. [These changes] will help the S.A. regain their legitimacy.”
These changes include explicitly stating that two minor violations of the election rules will constitute a single major violation. One major violation is grounds for possible disqualification from the election.
“We tightened and aligned the [campaign rules] more closely with the University campus code of conduct,” Katcher said. “It is now explicitly clear if [the candidates] are making violations deemed appropriate for disqualification.”
“We hope to get rid of any possible bias on the election committee,” said Calvin Selth ’07, vice president of internal operations in the S.A. “There will be several faculty members to oversee the committee hearings and to provide more assurance that the committee will continue to be unbiased.” The committee hearings will take place after the election results are tabulated on Wednesday night.
Last spring’s elections also had unusually many uncontested positions. Katcher considered it a marked improvement to have 12 freshmen vying for 3 spots and four transfer students for their one spot. Tim Lim ’06, president of the S.A., believed it was a sign of the successful publicity campaign launched by the S.A.
“I’m glad we’re able to do a lot of publicity, even though we’re understaffed,” Lim said, referring to the reduced number of administrative staff currently supporting the S.A.. “The publicity was a major part of elections this semester.”
According to Lim, advertisements were distributed to inform the voting public of the elections. As of last night, Katcher expected a mass email to be sent out this morning, informing students of the election and its procedure.
“There is a continuing effort to address these issues,” Selth said. He explained that campaign rules for next spring might include the ability for candidates to receive “campaign badges” allowing them to enter residence halls without an escort during specific campaigning hours.
The online voting ends on Wednesday and the elections committee expects the results to be announced by Thursday, barring technical or procedural issues.