Have you ever been to a Joint Elections Committee hearing? Consider yourself fortunate. The JEC is the organization charged with making sure the Student Association election runs fairly and smoothly – but when this does not happen, all hell breaks loose.
Let us paint a picture for you. Two dozen overly invested students crammed into a room on the fourth floor of the Marvin Center, clacking away on laptops while one or two at a time play lawyer, and a candidate’s eligibility is debated to death.
SA presidential runoff candidate Kyle Boyer, who missed securing the presidency by a mere two votes, had five violations filed against him. These violations were reported by senior Wylie Ballinger, who is not connected to the SA, but apparently has a lot of time on his hands. Since Boyer was found in violation of two of the filed complaints, and was assessed five new penalties, he is now disqualified.
Two days into this election season, 40 complaints were already filed with the JEC about JEC Charter rules that candidates allegedly broke. After six violations, a candidate would be kicked off the ballot. Things didn’t really start to heat up, however, until after the general election was over, and the complaints against Boyer were filed.
The JEC cannot control how many complaints are filed (since anyone can technically report a violation), but does it have to turn into a Law and Order parody? This semester, The Hatchet’s editorial board has repeatedly called for the SA to take a step back and examine how seriously the organization takes itself. The JEC should be first in line for this reality check.
Now, if a candidate is really in violation of election rules, we agree they deserve to lose their spot on the ballot. However, why does the whole process need to take what could be a month? The general election was Feb. 25 and 26, and since the runoff election will now be sometime after spring break, it will frankly be a wonder if any student still cares enough to vote.
Let’s take a look at some of the allegations made against Boyer. First, we have the legitimate failure to report a $75.08 Facebook advertisement, which rightly should have been counted, whether it was intentional or a mere oversight. Next, the questionable $25 parking ticket, which may have benefited from the debate, as it is an “expenditure.” The most controversial charge was the use of a vehicle to display posters, which Boyer argued did not count since it is a friend’s private property. It was an unforeseen issue, but was well argued by the opposition. However, since what constitutes an “expenditure” is so blurred, we now call on the Student Court to define it unmistakably and prevent future misconceptions.
To be clear, the charges were right to be fully investigated, but if a qualified candidate who garnered such a large percentage of the vote is dismissed on vague technical charges, where do we draw the line?
There is absolutely no reason for the JEC to put on such a production – they almost make the SA Senate look efficient. Whether it is a simplification of the JEC Charter, or a closer look at the subculture of this organization, something needs to change if the SA is to be taken seriously as an advocacy organization, and not a group of students that can’t even coordinate its own election.
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This article appeared in the March 12, 2009 issue of the Hatchet.