The Joint Elections Committee ruled Friday evening not to penalize members of Change for Students for complaints filed by Student Association Executive Vice President Cathy Resler. She alleged that the constitution referendum sponsored by the group should be subject to the same campaign rules that apply to candidates running for SA office.
With this JEC ruling, the Student Court can lift its injunction on counting votes for the SA election. SA President Dave Burt said the court will likely allow counting on Sunday with results expected Monday.
“If there (was) a run-off election, there is no way to guarantee that rules would be established by said point,” JEC chairman Hiscock said. “That’s not to say there wouldn’t be an attempt.”
Resler charged, in ten complaints filed Tuesday, that the referendum on the SA ballot was a candidate and therefore subject to the same campaign rules as candidates running for office as listed in the JEC charter.
“I’m alleging that the referendum is a candidate, in that Change for Students acted as authorizing agents and placed the candidate on the ballot,” she said.
SA presidential candidate Daniel Loren and vice-presidential candidate Mike Pellegrino, who co-authored the constitution and placed the referendum on the ballot by student petition, defended the charges against them as members of Change for Students.
“We think this is sort of ridiculous to define the referendum as a candidate, specifically where candidate means an individual,” Loren said.
The JEC charter defines candidate as “an individual who seeks election to SA office.” An individual is deemed as seeking election if that individual spends more than $50 on campaign activity, files a statement of candidacy with the JEC or “has otherwise made publicly known his intention to seek election to office,” according to the charter.
“In terms of any rules being applied to the referendum, the JEC charter says referendum rules should be made separately,” Loren said. “Referendum rules are different and separate.”
The JEC charter states that the committee “shall establish by regulation any rules, regulations and forms for the conduct of any referenda campaigns.”
Resler listed specific JEC candidate rules that should have been applied to the Change for Students campaign for the referendum, including spending limits, a requirement for JEC approval of all campaign material and regulation of handing out items of value on election day or making false and misleading statements.
“I wanted to prevent what could potentially have happened,” she said.
While Resler said Change for Students members did not distribute items of value on election day, she said the JEC did not approve any campaign material, some of which may have been questionable under University policies.
“Right now anybody can do anything campaigning for a referendum and that’s not right,” Resler said. “I feel the majority of rules applying to candidates should apply to referenda.”
She said that with regulations the JEC may not have approved plastic shot glasses, which Change for Students handed out as “toothpick holders” in Thurston hall prior to the election.
“I feel like it’s important for everything that is campaign related to be filed with the JEC to keep everything legitimate, honest and fair,” Resler said.
Hiscock said the committee will review its charter and possibly amend it to add campaign rules pertaining to individuals campaigning for referenda.
“Referenda must be treated in the manner in which candidates are treated with rules regulating campaign activity,” Josh Hiscock said at the ruling Friday.
Hiscock said the JEC will draft referenda campaign rules after obtaining feedback from interested parties in an open forum, and will likely take action before April 15.