The Student Government Association (SGA) Elections Board is now required to post election violations on its website following an amendment to its constitution during Thursday’s senate meeting.
First year councilor David Ware, the author of the amendment, said his goal was to promote transparency in election violations jurisdiction.
The amendment was sponsored by multiple first year councilors and endorsed by President Demarcus Joiner, Executive Vice President Jason Rothfarb and several other senators and executive officers.
Ware said that the amendment’s unanimous passing reflected SGA’s desire to promote clarity and “increase confidence in candidates.”
“Everyone that I talked to within SGA, including the Student Elections Board, felt that this was an appropriate change to make,” Ware said.
In March, all eight SGA executive positions were uncontested and at least two independent senate candidates with violations came forward to The CW.
One of those independent candidates, newly elected College of Arts and Sciences Senator John Dodd, called the passing of this amendment a “huge victory” for students and said it’s important that the public isn’t left in the dark.
Dodd said he looks forward to next year’s election cycle to see how the new amendment plays out and hopes this decision will encourage the Elections Board to uphold their responsibilities and duties.
“The campus is watching them now,” Dodd said. “It’s time for the Elections Board to decide if they work for their constituents or the Machine.”
The current constitution requires the Elections Board to issue decisions after a hearing during election season.
Potential violations can be reported by any member of the UA community through a form on the SGA website. The Elections Board Manual outlines a four-tier system of violations ranging from minimal infractions to major violations with a designated point value for each.
If a candidate receives 12 points, they may be disqualified, or the candidate may be prohibited from campaigning.
The Elections Board is composed of 12 members who serve a year-long term. Any interested student can complete an application posted to the SGA website the day after the spring election cycle ends.
Currently, the Elections Board decides whether or not they make the list of violations and the outcomes of hearings public.
SGA Press Secretary Jackson Fuentes said the Elections Board was required to post violations online in the past, but the rule was changed due to privacy issues. In an effort to remain transparent with the rest of campus, Fuentes said the SGA wants to begin posting violations online again.
“We want to encourage and promote transparency, always, and this is one of the measures we can do,” Fuentes said. “We want to bring it back so that people know what’s going on.”
The CW has requested a complete list of violations for the most recent election six times since Feb. 28. The Elections Board did not comply with these requests, but said 17 reports had been submitted by March 1.
Other SEC schools, like Auburn and University of Georgia (UGA), require that their SGA election violations be posted to the public in a timely manner. Auburn calls for the violation and its ruling to be posted online and in writing within an hour after the ruling of the violation is complete.
UGA mandates that violations and their outcomes must be shared with the public, while also be “clearly reasoned and explained using citations” from their Elections Code. This information must be disseminated as soon as possible following the ruling. The public is also open to attend elections hearing proceedings.
The Elections Board did not respond in time for publication.