Senate rejects palmcarding bill

The Student Association rejected a measure banning palmcarding and forms of “bribery” during the SA elections at a senate meeting Tuesday night. The bill, introduced to the senate through a student petition by SA President Dave Burt, failed 14-0 with four abstentions.

The bill called to amend the Joint Elections Committee Charter to ban “all forms of gifts, including, but not limited to clothing, food, drinks and toys.”

Senators argued against the bill, saying that, if it supported the bill, the senate would acting hypocritically.

“Everyone in here was elected by bribery,” Sen. Josh Rothstein (U-CSAS) said.

Senators also questioned the constitutionality of the proposal. J.P. Blackford, (G-SEAS), said the student court would find the proposal unconstitutional. He said palmcarding functions to inform students about the election.

“You can’t tell people (they) can’t hand out information,” Sen. Dave Feldman (U-CSAS) said. “It’s anyone’s right under the First Amendment to hand out literature. By banning palmcarding, how far can the senate go?”

Feldman said palmcarding and active campaigning adds to the legitimacy of the campaign.

“(Without palmcarding) you’re back to the popularity contest of high school,” he said.

But Burt said the senate ignored student opinion by voting down the measure.

“The Student Association senate is not listening to students in any way shape or form,” he said after the vote. Burt initiated a petition with 100 student signatures to force the senate to a vote.

Burt cited unofficial results from the 1997 SA election to show a majority of students supported a referendum question on the SA ballot for banning palmcarding during elections.

Feldman and Blackford said that the 100 signatures Burt obtained were not a “groundswell” of student opposition. If a petition with 1,000 signatures came to the senate, Feldman said he would consider it more seriously.

Burt said he proposed several measures to ban palmcarding and bribery and to lower spending limits for campaigns, but they await rules committee approval.

Earlier in the meeting, the senate voted in favor of an amendment limiting election-day handouts to buttons, stickers and campaign literature. The bill allows candidates to hand out “items of value” other times during the campaign.

Josh Singer, vice president of judicial and legislative affairs and Josh Friedman, vice president of financial affairs, spoke in place of Burt to support the bill at the meeting.

“We see bribery as something that isn’t right,” Singer said.

The senate also approved four candidates to fill the five vacant seats in the Joint Elections Committee Tuesday. Joshua Hiscock, Stephanie Richmond, Jessica Stolow and Joshua Konecni will begin working immediately on the JEC under last year’s charter, although one seat still remains open, said Cathy Resler, SA executive vice president.

The JEC charter requires appointments to be made in November, but the senate rules committee was unable to form a quorum to approve the candidates until recently, Burt said.

The senate indefinitely tabled a bill sponsored by Blackford to amend SA bylaws to allow committees to exchange e-mails or use other means of long-distance communication “for the purposes of deliberating legislation and casting votes on referred legislation,” rather than meeting in person.

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