SGA Elections Board considers changing voting day

Jordan Cissell

The Student Government Association Student Elections Board will decide this week whether or not to reschedule spring 2013 elections approximately one month earlier than last year’s voting day, an SGA spokesperson said.

Meagan Bryant, executive press secretary, said the Student Elections Board is considering a proposal by SGA President Matt Calderone and Attorney General Ashley Vickers to push the election date for the 2013-2014 academic year to Feb. 12, 2013.

The decision on whether or not to enact the change ultimately belongs to the Student Elections Board, which Bryant expects to have completed its deliberations by the end of the week.

Elections for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 academic years took place on March 8, 2011, and March 6, 2012, respectively.

Vickers said Article VIII of the SGA Constitution specifies the Board is comprised of four undergraduate students, two graduate or law school students, one faculty member and one non-voting staff member. Mark Nelson, vice president for student affairs, selects five student members and the two staff members. Calderone selects an undergraduate student member.

“[Calderone] and [Vickers] met with the Elections Board Nov. 2 to discuss the possibility of moving elections up in the semester,” Bryant said in an emailed statement. “The proposed day for elections is Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013. This is only a proposal that was sent to the elections board. We are awaiting a decision from them, and we expect an answer early next week.”

Bryant said the earlier election date would provide more time for freshly elected officials to get accustomed to their new roles.

“We are interested in moving elections up in order to give the new administration more time to adjust and learn their new positions,” she said.

Calderone said he could have benefited from an extra month of adjustment time following his election in March 2012. He made the proposal to aid the next president-elect’s early development.

“I feel that I and future SGA presidents would benefit from having a longer transition period to search for possible appointments and transition into the new role as SGA President before the end of the spring semester,” Calderone said in an emailed statement.

Ryan Flamerich, a college of engineering senator, said an extra month probably wouldn’t do much to improve elected officials’ performances.

“There has never been a problem regarding the change of power from one administration to another,” he said. “I think the biggest problem with the SGA isn’t a lack of sufficient time to accomplish its goals, it’s competency.”

Flamerich said the lack of training programs for executive appointees is more of a problem than time. The Senate did not hold a workshop until halfway through the term, he said, and hosted a poor turnout among the 50 senators.

“The idea that more time is needed to accomplish this task is akin to throwing money at a problem and hoping it gets better,” he said.

Flamerich said the extra time granted by a pushed-up election date would be best utilized as a period for the SGA’s legislative branch to review nominees for appointed positions.

“The main purpose would be to allow for sufficient legislative oversight of executive branch nominees,” Flamerich said. “Unfortunately, we tried to have that oversight last year and faced significant push back from the executive branch. We tried to hold confirmation hearings in the Senate, but the Cochran and Swinson administrations vehemently opposed this.”