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Ending with debate: Final senate session addresses SA election issues

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April 6, 2016

10:14 AM

During the last meeting of the 323rd session of the Student Assembly senate, the SA elections commission presented senators with a breakdown of this year’s elections results. This presentation prompted a discussion about election code violations.

Outgoing elections commission chair Kyle McCauley ’16 went through how many votes each presidential ticket, class president and senator got. He highlighted that this year’s voter turnout was the second to break 40 percent in the last four years.

Following the commission’s presentation, senators had a chance to ask questions about the execution and logistics of this year’s campaign. Class of 2019 President Jonah Yesowitz ’19 questioned why there was not more advertisement leading up to the start of campaigning, and said he believed there could possibly be a link between delayed advertising and lower numbers of students running in class elections.

“That comparison is not at all valid,” McCauley said. “I would point that last year’s spring class of 2017 couldn’t fill all four senate spots and we worked hard to make sure every spot was filled this year. We had three [information] sessions and we were willing to accommodate people who couldn’t make them. Our hands were tied, I did not pick the elections date.”

Another issue brought up by senators was the presidential debate. Outgoing Senate Chairman Dan Ackerman ’16 said that there originally had been a scheduling conflict when the elections commission scheduled the meeting for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 because it would coincide with the weekly senate meeting. Ultimately, the debate actually occurred at 5 p.m. that same day.

“Were you aware that for the first time in the last four debates questions were not pre-screened?” Ackerman said. “The questions used to be written out on index cards beforehand. This year you just passed a microphone around the audience.”

Ackerman also said that in previous years, the elections commission chose to screen audience questions beforehand to avoid personal or targeted questions.

“Were you aware that for the first time in the last four debates questions were not pre-screened?” Ackerman said. “The questions used to be written out on index cards beforehand. This year you just passed a microphone around the audience.”

McCauley said he believed passing a microphone around the audience would make it easier to facilitate the debate, and that he was not aware of the logistics of previous debates.

Additionally, Ackerman questioned the election commission’s choice to move the end of elections back an hour Thursday, March 24. In response, McCauley said that he had believed he had more flexibility in determining the end of election times.

Outgoing Sen. J.C. LaRiviere ’17 said that one of the problems is that typically, the student body is uninformed about the workings of SA, and that they often do not know what candidates’ platforms are.

“One thing that I think is important to note and that we can all agree on is that we are working with an uninformed voting base,” LaRiviere said. “People don’t know who the candidates are. We used to do pictures that went along with the names, so that even if they don’t know the person, they could judge based on their character and their reputation at the school.”

He also cited a past of technical difficulties during elections, and suggested that SA work to pilot a new system through email and test it themselves.

“I am deeply disappointed that rather than offering constructive criticism for how to improve the election process, most members of the Student Assembly senate unfairly blamed the elections commission for a variety of factors that were beyond our control,” McCauley said in an email.

Following the meeting, McCauley said he was disappointed in the way senators addressed their complaints.

“I am deeply disappointed that rather than offering constructive criticism for how to improve the election process, most members of the Student Assembly senate unfairly blamed the elections commission for a variety of factors that were beyond our control,” McCauley said in an email.

Tomorrow, April 6, the 324th session of the senate, as well as SA President-Elect Eboni Brown ’17 and SA Vice President-Elect Hannah McKiernan ’17, will be officially sworn into session.

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Sarah Smith

News Editor Sarah Smith '19 is an undeclared major from Ashburn, VA. She formerly served as Associate News Editor.