The Student Association Senate voted to strip power from the SA’s election oversight body Wednesday night, taking away the body’s ability to file campaign violations against candidates in an effort to lessen the number of violations this election cycle.
The vote to strip the Joint Elections Committee of it’s power to file campaign violations comes after members of the SA Senate said the independent JEC excessively overused the power in the past.
“There were 103 violations filed last year, and a majority of those violations did not affect the outcome of the elections,” Rules Committee chair Amanda Galonek, CCAS-U, said. “All it does is drag more students who have no connection to the election into the spiral of unnecessary violations.”
At the meeting, JEC Chief Investigator Willard Applefeld tried to persuade the SA to give the JEC back its authority to file violations.
“I, whose responsibility it is to enforce the rules of the charter and ensure a fair election for all of the candidates, will be forced to sit by and do nothing when I witness a violation occur,” Applefeld said. “Ensuring a fair election and enforcing the rules of the charter should be one in the same. At the moment, they are not.”
Galonek argued that the committee has abused its power in the past.
“Everyone was displeased with how the JEC handled their right to file violations last year and it seems like every senator has a negative story about the process,” she said.
Applefeld countered that senators should not be allowed to speak out against the charter because a less powerful JEC benefits those running for re-election.
SA Sen. Charlie Rybak, U-at-large, rejected this notion, saying he is a graduating senior who would like to take as much power away from the JEC as possible.
“The JEC is a collection of wannabe bureaucrats-in-training that ruin elections for everyone every year,” Rybak said. “They sit around all year and then file complaints to make themselves feel like they have important positions. They ask for [money] to fuel their egotistical, self-important activities.”
The senate also revised the election rules to ensure that candidates who declare their candidacy before the official campaign registration period begins will not receive violations.
SA Sen. Jason Kaplan, CCAS-U, has been the only candidate to announce his candidacy for president thus far.
The senate also unanimously passed the SA Finance Committee’s mid-year allocations bill worth about $19,020 after a week’s delay. After starting the school year with a record amount of money, the SA has spent about $870,000 in allocations and co-sponsorships for student organizations this academic year.
Unlike previous years, the finance committee did not reclaim any money initially allocated to student organizations in October.
“This semester, we found that orgs were spending their money efficiently and we had little reason to reclaim any money,” Finance Committee chair Chris Clark, U-At large, said.
Organizations that missed the original fall registration deadline for allocations were given a closer look for mid-year allocations this semester, Clark said.
The SA has about $88,000 remaining for the rest of the year, although Clark said he is expecting another $20,000 within the next week from organizations returning unspent money from co-sponsorships.