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ASWSUV seeks to change election codes for the 2015 student government elections

The 2015 ASWSUV student government elections are still a few months away, but changes to the election codes have already been proposed in preparation. The process to change the codes has been going on for several years, but it is hoped to become a reality sometime in the near future. Peter Collier, ASWSUV’s vice president, has played a large role in ensuring that these changes come about.

Collier said the proposed changes to the codes are necessary for several reasons. In past elections, the results have been disputed and sent before the campus judicial review board, largely because the election codes were vague in important areas. As the current code stands, Collier said that the rules can result in “ambiguous situations” regarding election results. Candidates can challenge results based on whether the campaign was conducted as per the guidelines, and the current codes do not clarify these gray areas of election campaign legality. For instance, Collier said the codes as they now stand are quite vague as to how candidates can conduct their campaigns, and thus are not modern. The current student government voting codes either limit or are not clear on how student candidates can use technology and social media in their campaigns. Due to the outdated nature of the codes, lack of clarity and ambiguous situations, conflicts manifested themselves in previous elections.

In light of the problems with the code, the current movement to change the voting codes began in Aug. 2014. An election task force was created to evaluate the current voting codes and determine what needed to be changed. A rough draft was sent to the Rules and Administration Committee, which edited the draft to clarify points and better explain how the changes will affect students. A bylaw amendment was then created, and recently was sent to the Senate floor. The proposal has been tabled for the time being to allow for discussions to continue into Jan. 2015.

While the voting code changes are still pending a final vote, the Senate is working out some of the details of the change. If the changes are approved by the Senate, they are anticipated to take effect in the next ASWSUV election. However, if the changes are not approved in their current form, Collier said that they would continue to pursue altering the election codes, saying that it is important because “we owe this to our students.”

Collier believes that the changes are important because they will create a clear framework for what is allowable in election campaigns. The changes are also projected to eliminate disputed election results by removing potential ambiguities in the current codes. The codes will be accessible to all students, and the goal is so that they will be easily understood by all. Collier said that the current system stifles creativity on the part of students. By altering the election codes, students will be able to see the candidates for who they really are, rather than as candidates trying to adhere to a strict, outdated election code. Collier said that the new codes will make items that were too specific in the old codes more open to modern interpretation, and items that were too vague in the old codes more specific. Collier said that the new codes would allow “for every student to have the opportunity to run in a holistic, fair student election.”

According to the system set up by the proposed new codes, election results will be final, without the need for post-election judicial review. Thus, Collier hopes that the code changes will foster a stronger, more transparent student government, as well as creating confidence among students towards their system of student government. Collier said, “We’re making the vote of the students a valid vote.” Students or faculty who have questions regarding the voting code changes can contact Peter Collier at aswsuv.vpres@vancouver.wsu.edu. A vote on the issue is expected later this week, so ASWSUV is encouraging people to offer feedback as soon as possible.

Taking care of ballots by Gregory Walker

 

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