Last Thursday, CU’s student government legislative council passed the first reading of a bill that could potentially change the way their elections are handled in the future.
This Thursday, during legislative council’s weekly meeting in the UMC, they will vote on a series of modifications to their current election code regarding campaigning, voting hours and finances. Their meetings are open to the public and take place in conference room 247 at 7.p.m.
The CU Student Government listens to a prospective member during their September 6th meeting. (CU Independent File/James Bradbury)
The bill, authored by Vice President of External Affairs Tyler Quick and Vice President of Legislative Council Zeke Johnson, could affect several sections of the existing code, which was last updated in February of 2011.
There are two CUSG elections per semester — one in the fall, to elect representatives for legislative council, and one in the spring, to determine the executive positions of President, Vice President of External Affairs, and Vice President of Internal Affairs.
Here is a run-down of some of the possible changes:
Campaigning and voting hours
Currently, students can vote starting at 12:01 a.m. the Monday election week begins. Polls close Friday at 8 p.m. The new bill would conclude election week Thursday at 5 p.m.
According to Quick and Johnson, there has been “drunk campaigning” on past Thursday nights — candidates going out that night and asking students in bar and party environments to vote. Only 1.6 percent of all votes during last semester’s election were cast between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. Thursday nights/early Friday mornings, but 18.3 percent of all votes were cast between 5 p.m. Thursday and 8 p.m. Friday.
Quick described drunk campaigning as “taking advantage of people” and asked that the council consider ethical reasons to outweigh statistics.
There are no mandatory debates between candidates and parties in the election code, but this bill would add at least one to the election week calendar.
“It would be the best way to capture differences and see [the candidates] interacting,” Johnson said.
There was also a proposal to broadcast the debates on the CUSG website, so that in the event of a daytime debate, students who had class and could not attend would be able to catch up on them later.
Finances and bribery
The election code already has fairly strict guidelines when it comes to campaign money, but the new bill would crack down even harder on candidates.
The current code states that candidates for representative positions cannot surpass a $500 limit for each individual campaign; that amount would be changed to $300 by the bill. Candidates for the executive positions originally had an individual limit of $1500; that would be cut to $500 per person.
“You shouldn’t be able to buy an election,” Johnson said.
Though there are infraction penalties in place for various potential rule-breakings, there is no specific language for bribery, which Quick described for the council.
“If I give you food to vote, that’s not bribery,” he said. “If I give you food to vote for me, that is bribery.”
According to Quick and Johnson, bribery has been a prevalent issue in past elections. But their desire to eliminate “quid pro quo,” as they put it, was met with some concern by the legislative council representatives. Former election commissioner and current council senator, John Michael Tomczak said that bribery was too hard to define, something that was “subjective instead of objective” and different on a case by case basis.
It wasn’t the only section of the bill to cause some disagreement. Allowing students studying abroad to vote (as they are currently unable to) and preventing “dorm-storming” — when candidates knock on dorm room doors and talk to freshman — were also controversial.
It will all be decided Thursday night, when Quick and Johnson put their attempt to create a “less partisan” election to a final vote.
Contact CU Independent Breaking News Editor Annie Melton at Anne.email@example.com.
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