Student Government

Election controversies lead to reform

Emily S Chambers SGA Web 10.17-1

Three senators that represent the College of Liberal Arts and Social Science presented two bills Wednesday that addressed voting issues that appeared during the Spring elections. | Emily Chambers/The Daily Cougar

Three bills that would reform campus election protocol and SGA members’ dress codes were introduced into the Senate Wednesday.

In response to the election controversy during the February elections earlier this year, Sens. James Lee and Guillermo Lopez of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences brought forth two separate bills.

Lee presented the first election code reform, called the Election Reform and Accountability Act, which would amend election rules in campaigning, election implementing and concerns with voting turnout. Confusion about voting locations, candidate selections and social media presence were some of the concerns of Lee’s presentation.

“We have changed our system of voting to on-campus, in-person voting, and it’s the safest, most convenient way for students who are here on campus who are able to vote,” Lee said. “The problem was, last year, our polling locations weren’t well thought out, and on top of that, you had problems with technology.”

“The main thing we want to do is increase accessibility for students and their involvement on campus. And the main way to do that, in order to properly do that and to implement this engagement, we have to make sure they’re able to properly cast their ballots,” Lee said.

For Lopez, who is another one of the eight CLASS representatives, an equally important component of election reform has to do with timeliness of information for the SGA, prospective candidates and students interested in casting their votes, which he addressed in the bill “Election Commission Accountability Act.”

He said he believes the election committee has an obligation to report to the Senate on the progression of elections in order to update the calendar.

“We need to make sure that the elections run smoothly. Clear and efficient elections are not only beneficial for the candidates running, but also for the students who want their voices heard,” Lopez said. “If the students believe that it’s disorganized or there’s no accountability, they’re not going to feel excited about the process.”

SGA also touched on the matter of dress codes for its members. Because of a student comment about the acceptability of casual wear in the government body, a bill is being introduced to possibly reform this. For Attorney General Shane Smith, this is an essential addition to fostering a professional environment.

“We’re here representing the students, working hard for them. We need to appear professional and act professional, and the dress code bill has come up as a result of being as professional as we can for the students,” Smith said. “We want to be taken seriously; we want both the students and the administrators to know that we’re here and that we’re trying to make the University a better place, and a part of that is looking the part.”

For Lee, who enjoys sporting a business casual look, implementing a mandatory dress code could go against the spirit of inclusion.

“Me personally, I like to dress up, but I realize and understand that not everyone can. I don’t want to make it a classist organization,” Lee said.

SGA will vote on the bills during the next meeting on Oct. 30.

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