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USU/SA Talks about the Future of Elections

Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

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USU/SA Talks about the Future of Elections

By Danielle Manley, the Utah Statesman, Monday, November 25, 2013

The election bylaws for 2014 were presented during the rescheduled USU Student Association Executive Council meeting Monday [Nov. 25] at 7 a.m. The council spent the majority of its time discussing campaign regulations during student elections.

Sonina Hernandez, organizations and diversity vice president, said she didn’t understand why it was not allowed for students to campaign inside off-campus buildings with posters and flyers, but they are allowed to post large banners outside the building with permission.

“Why are we regulating what’s inside and not outside?” said Casey Saxton, public relations and marketing director. “I see some value, not being able to drop random campaign materials without getting permission.”

Both Saxton and Charley Riddle, athletics and campus recreation VP, agreed with Hernandez’s point.

“Now that Sonina brings this up, I see nothing wrong if a student wants to put a poster in a lobby,” Riddle said.

The council started discussing campaigning with posters and flyers in off-campus buildings and it led to a broader conversation about regulating any off-campus election activity.

Administrative assistant Trevor Olsen said he was worried students with connections to certain businesses would gain sponsorships and endorsements, giving them an unfair advantage over other candidates. Kevin Webb, assistant director for student involvement and leadership, said it would be impossible to regulate all off-campus campaigning.

“We’re never going to know where this is going to go,” Webb said. “We could talk around this for hours and not know. We just need to decide what makes sense and go with it.”

Matt Anderson, College of Humanities and Social Sciences senator and senate pro tempore, agreed with Webb and said it would open a can of worms during elections.

“It’s impossible for us to do it,” Anderson said. “It would make the elections run ragged. We can’t be everywhere and do everything.”

The council also discussed off-limits campaigning locations on campus. The current and future bylaws don’t allow for candidates to campaign on the Taggart Student Center patio or plaza. The plaza, located south of the patio by the fountain, could be a prime location for candidates, but some officers felt it would intrude on students who dislike elections week.

Riddle said there are students who despise elections week and they needed to be thought about when making the decision.

“If I’m not campaigning or helping someone, I’d want to have a space where I’m not bombarded,” Olsen said.

The discussion was tabled until the council’s next meeting when they could spend more time on the topic.

Many of the changes from the previous bylaws corrected “ASUSU” to “USU/SA.” However, some changes were more than corrections.

In previous years, students declared in two colleges were allowed to vote for one senatorial candidate. The elections committee changed the policy so those students can vote for a senator in each of their colleges.

Other changes include new rules for write-in candidates, prohibiting campaigning in on-campus housing and adding a sentence stating officers are subject to removal of office if good standing with USU is breached.

The bylaws passed as a first reading and the executive council will continue its discussion at the next public meeting Tuesday, Dec. 3 at 5 p.m.

Twitter: @daniellekmanley

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