Student Government election code must be revised

Abinav Kumar

Once charges are filed against the candidate’s campaign, the Election Supervisory Board is required by the election code to hold a hearing and rule on the charge as soon as possible. Over eight hearings were held since the campaign season started, the majority of them involving executive alliances. 

Unfortunately, the ESB relies on a terribly written election code littered with contradictory clauses and definitions. Organizations relying on the ESB ought to come together and overhaul the current election code.

The Helgren-Kim executive alliance campaign faced several suits and every time the ESB ruled against them. Though the ESB did justify their decisions with the election code, Student Government’s Supreme Court overturned or made significant changes to each of those decisions upon appeal.

Two of the most prominent decisions overturned by the Supreme Court were ESB Resolution 2016-007 and ESB Resolution 2016-008. Both these cases accurately represent the disconnect between the Supreme Court and the ESB due to the election code.

ESB Resolution 2016-007 dealt with the question of whether or not Kallen Dimitroff lied about her voting record. The ESB found no evidence of malicious intent and dismissed the case. The Supreme Court overturned the dismissal and levied a partial 24-hour moratorium against them.

In ESB Resolution 2016-008, the Helgren-Kim campaign did not disclose their fine explicitly as they were required. The ESB placed a 48-hour moratorium and an additional fine on the campaign. The Supreme Court overturned the decision, citing the 2015’s “lunchablegate” decision and reduced the punishment to a smaller fine.

Our broken election code prevents candidates from operating within confined and clear bounds and running a proper campaign without unintentionally breaking rules.

ESB Vice Chair Zach Long said the break between the Supreme Court and the ESB can be attributed to the election code.

“The election code is terrible,” Long said. “There are a lot of gray areas, a lot of ambiguities and lot of conflicting statements in it. We are literally just interpreting it differently, because there is so much room available to interpret it.”

The code needs to be completely rewritten from the bottom up, but in order to do this all entities that rely on the ESB must agree through each of their unique internal processes on a new election code. The problem we face, however, is that not all entities desire the change. This results in the entity relying most directly on the ESB within Student Government to be left with most, if not all, of the conflicts and confusion.

SG Chief Justice Zachary Stone says the code’s gaping holes affect the legitimacy of the election.

“[The election code] probably makes the election worse than if some committee of people determines what’s fair and what’s not,” Stone said. “I’d advocate a complete restructuring.”

The discontent is clear on both sides. The entities relying on the ESB need to recognize the necessity for this change and actually come together to create a real change. We need to push for actual reformation, since the election code directly impacts us as students, and we ought to express our discontent with the unfair carrying out of justice.”

Kumar is a PACE freshman from Sugarland. Follow him on Twitter @ImAbiKumar