The Student Association Senate finalized the Joint Elections Committee, confirming its final two members and passing an amended charter intended to prevent allegations of fraud that marked last year’s election.
The new amendments include sections to prevent bribes and inappropriate campaign spending. Rules Committee chairman Ben Traverse (CCAS-U) said the amendments were a direct response to charges that some SA candidates were effectively paying members of student organizations to endorse them. Under the amended charter, the JEC can punish candidates for paying for votes or endorsements.
Other changes included redefining the campaign area in front of the Marvin Center and limiting the amount of signs candidates can officially post. A final copy of the JEC Charter with all its amendments will be made available in a few days on the JEC Web site, which is accessible though GWeb.
SA President Omar Woodard created a special committee to rewrite the charter last semester, but the document is still not complete.
The Senate also confirmed sophomores Katherine Lux and Juliet Moser to sit on the five-member body that oversees the March 2 and 3 SA, Marvin Center Governing Board and Program Board elections. The two candidates will join graduate student Christopher Jenkins, sophomore Justin Neidig and junior Danielle Curtis on the commission.
Woodard nominates the three SA-appointed members to sit on the commission. Nominees must be vetted by the Rules Committee and confirmed by the full Senate.
Traverse said his committee passed the nominees to prevent further delays in the appointment process, which some senators said should have already been finished. Last week, the Rules Committee rejected the original two nominees for the JEC, sophomore Alexandra Valenti and Lux, who was re-nominated by Woodard last week. Valenti dropped out of the process citing time constraints.
Traverse, who is running for SA president, abstained from voting on the nominees in the full Senate meeting, citing calls to separate himself from the electoral process.
“With accusations that were floating around and the election being a month away I felt it was time to recuse myself,” Traverse said.
Morgan Corr (CCAS-U) and Eli Mazour (SEAS-U), who are running on Traverse’s “Coalition to Reform” ticket, joined their fellow senator in not voting on Moser.
While only two senators voted against Moser’s appointment, some senators still questioned her objectivity after she was asked by C.J. Calloway (GWSB-U) to work on his presidential campaign in November, an offer she rejected.
Woodard, who nominated Moser and Lux, said both candidates are qualified for the job.
“We have two candidates that are competent and qualified, but are not SA insiders,” Woodard said. “Juliet is someone who is intimately familiar with the SA, but can remain objective and fair in overseeing the election.” Moser has run for Senate to represent the Elliott School of International Affairs twice, but lost both times.
Some senators said they were upset that the nomination process did not happen earlier. Peter Feldman (U-At Large), who voted against both nominees, said the prospective JEC members should have been brought before the Senate before winter break.
“The later the appointments are done, and this year it is very late, the more of a need there is to get candidates who are intimately familiar with the governing document,” said Feldman, who served on the JEC three years ago.
Marisa Tjerandsen, coordinator for student involvement at the Student Activities Center, which runs the election, said the late appointment process may hinder the voting.
“When you start so far behind it’s hard for everyone to catch up,” Tjerandsen said at a Jan. 26 Senate meeting. “At this point with the appointments so late, you are setting the JEC members up to fail.”
Last year’s elections were plagued by accusations of missing ballots and electoral fraud.
Taking some blame that the nominees were not confirmed earlier, Woodard said he is nonetheless optimistic the election will run smoothly.
“We have qualified nominees and no more room for error, and I don’t foresee any,” Woodard said. “I think we’re going to have a fair, good election.”