SA debates election threshold hike

The Student Association Senate discussed the possibility of increasing the percentage of votes necessary to be elected to one of the SA’s top two spots Monday, an issue that has been debated since it was presented to the Student Court last spring.

The court in February 1997 that the Joint Elections Committee violated the SA constitution when it urged that the threshold be increased.

A year later, senators disagreed at Monday’s meeting about the effects of raising the threshold from 40 percent to 50 percent.

The SA constitution currently requires candidates receive at least 40 percent to be elected president or executive vice president of the organization. A runoff is held between the top two vote-getters if neither garners this 40 percent.

Undergraduate Sen. Jesse Strauss (CSAS), who sponsored the bill to increase the percentage, said students think the leaders of the SA should be chosen by a majority of the electorate.

Upping the threshold from a plurality to a majority is an idea whose time has come, he said.

In a two-candidate race, write-in candidates could prevent any candidate from receiving a majority of the vote, forcing a runoff, said undergraduate Sen. Carrie Potter (at large).

But graduate Sen. J.P. Blackford (SEAS) said the 50 percent minimum would ensure runoff elections, which add $2,000 to SA election expenditures.

Several senators who disagreed with the change said the decision ultimately should be made by students through a ballot referendum.

“Students are intelligent enough to make an informed decision if we put forth the pros and cons,” Sen. David Burke (SBPM) said.

The bill is pending in the Senate until the organization decides whether to present the proposal as a ballot referendum.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.