The Student Government Association assembly will vote tomorrow on three recommended changes to the election process.
The Election Oversight Committee introduced the recommendations to assembly last Thursday.
The first recommendation shortens the campaign period from two weeks to 11 days. The second allows each candidate to only run for one office. Finally, election results will not be released to protect the privacy of the candidates.
Evan Zahn, Election Oversight Committee chair, said the recommendations came from looking at the past year’s election and what could be improved or clarified.
Zahn said the committee hopes a shorter campaign period will make campaigns more exciting and bring better voter turnout.
He said the second recommendation was suggested to prevent someone from potentially winning multiple offices and not being able to fulfill all of those positions’ duties.
“There’s multiple scenarios that could play out, and we just want to avoid all those and have the best candidate for the position,” Zahn said.
Finally, Zahn said the third recommendation is the most controversial after the debate last year about whether or not to release the results.
The total percentage of how much of campus voted will be released, but the results will not be broken down and attributed to each candidate under the new recommendation.
“I’m very strongly against the election results being released,” Zahn said. “Yes, you could argue that other campuses do release the results, but we as a committee did not see any benefit to the results being released.”
He said it is sometimes hard to get people to run for class officer positions, and even SGA president. He said releasing election results could hurt the morale on campus if a vote were too close or hurt an individual if hardly anyone voted for him or her.
Abigail Springer, member of the public relations committee for election oversight, said the question of releasing election results was something that had never been questioned and something the committee never worried about before last year.
“I feel very strongly about not releasing the numbers,” Springer said.
She said it would be easy for candidates to potentially be hurt by people talking about results, especially with social media.
“It’s the Butler Community of Care,” Springer said. “All of these issues were how do we make this election run more smoothly? And how do we protect our candidates and help our candidates achieve what they want to out of the election? Even if that means losing, then how do we encourage them to continue to be involved?”
Springer said she hopes assembly members believe in what the committee is working toward in terms of the recommendations and said she hopes things go well at assembly tomorrow.
SGA President Mike Keller said he is very intent about staying separate from the Election Oversight Committee but has mixed views on the recommendations.
“As a former candidate, I can really say that shortening the campaign period is a good idea,” Keller said. “That is a terrible two weeks for a candidate,
particularly an SGA president. It’s not good really for a student for that length of time. Personally, my grades didn’t do so well during the campaign.”
For the second recommendation, Keller said it’s a no-brainer to have each candidate only be able to run for one office. It was just never written in the rules.
Keller said the assembly and its constituents really have to think about what they want as far as open or closed election results.
“The biggest thing is that there had never been anything written about whether we do this or not,” Keller said. “That’s not good. We need to have rules and structure to point to and explain why we do these things.”
He said his personal opinion, though, is different than that of the committee.
“I have always felt there is little that goes wrong with an open election and open results,” Keller said.
As for the vote tomorrow, Keller said he hopes there is a great discussion about the recommendations but has a hunch that they will all be passed.
Zahn said he also has a positive outlook on the vote tomorrow.
“I’m very hopeful that the recommendations will be agreed upon because I think we have the best intentions for the campus, the potential candidates and the entire student body in mind when we made these propositions,” Zahn said.
If the recommendations are passed, Zahn said he does not foresee any challenges because they are settling this ahead of the election instead of during or after it, as was the issue last year.