April 20, 2004

SG prepares for elections

Candidates running in the upcoming Student Government (SG) elections kicked off their campaigns Tuesday after a meeting Monday with the Election and Rules Committee (ERC).

In an effort to prevent problems that have plagued elections in the past few years—such as brawls and illegal postering—the ERC tightened the controls around the campaign.

According to committee member Teresa Lemieux, graduate student in Classical languages and literature, the group has a history of ineffectiveness in SG elections. "We knew that E&R in the past had no way to punish," she said.

Each slate candidate is now required to put down a $20 deposit, which will be refunded after the election if all goes well. According to Kate Hui, first-year in the College and chair of the committee, the money is necessary to ensure that the elections are conducted professionally.

The slates are each allowed $150 worth of photocopies in the Reynolds Club RSO office, and any additional expenses cannot exceed $100. In an effort to reduce litter, no more than 150 posters per slate will be allowed at any given time. ERC members will enforce this by stamping and numbering the slates' posters throughout the campaign.

"We are limited in what we can do," Lemieux said. "This isn't a perfect plan, but it's the best solution we could come up with."

According to committee member Tom Weirich, graduate student in the Committee on International Relations, the postering policy is modeled after a similar one that has been used successfully by colleges on the East Coast.

"This will cut down on waste and motivate slates to be more creative in their campaigning," Hui said. "There are more ways to advertise besides postering and plastering."

Hui said each candidate must also sign an honor code statement "to raise their awareness of the standards E&R expect of them."

"It's a great way of reminding people that it reflects not just their behavior, but the behavior of SG as well," Weirich said.

Once voting begins on May 3, candidates will be barred from campaigning within 50 feet of a polling station. Since students can now vote online, any public computer is considered a polling station.

The Election and Rules Committee will evaluate campaign violations on a case-by-case basis and reprimand candidates accordingly. They said the most likely punishment for minor infractions—such as poster removal—would involve deductions from the $20 deposit. For severe or multiple infractions, the committee intends to deduct from the expense allowances.

According to Sharlene Holly, director of the Office of the Reynolds Club and Student Activities, vote reduction and campaigning restrictions are still possibilities, although the committee hopes it will not have to resort to any measures that extreme.