The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Group debates election changes

Megan Doyle | Thursday, November 11, 2010

Student Senate discussed changes to the process for allegations made against candidates in student body elections on Wednesday, with senators unanimously passing a resolution rearranging the election committee that reviews these allegations and determines sanctions when a rule is broken.

Oversight chair Paige Becker and Judicial Council president Marcelo Perez explained the original system and the proposed changes to the senators.

“What we are addressing through these changes is what happens when, during an election someone, files an allegation against someone who is running for office,” Becker said.

Before this amendment, the election committee was comprised of 29 hall election coordinators appointed by hall presidents for each dorm. These coordinators met when an allegation was made to decide if it was valid and should be reviewed. They passed valid allegations to an executive committee of six election coordinators.

The executive committee would then hear from the accused and the accuser. If the committee found the allegation to be true, its members would decide on a sanction.

Perez said the changes to the system would make it clearer and easier. Most of the allegations made are about candidates who break rules campaigning, and most sanctions usually involve cuts in campaign funding, Perez said.

“One of the problems with this system is that hall election coordinators are not always appointed in time for the Freshman Class Council (FCC) elections,” Becker said.

Allegations also fell through in the past because not enough members of the election committee could meet on short notice, Perez said.

“Inefficiency can really be important to this process because during these campaigns, time is of the essence,” Becker said.

To address these problems, the new body will constitute one election committee made of seven voting members chosen through an interview process. It will also include two non-voting members as the Senate Liaison to the Judicial Council and the Oversight committee chair.

“These committee members will be selected from the student body at large and cannot hold any other student government position,” Becker said. “What we want is someone from the student body at large who has separation from the elections.”

The Student Senate will still be able to appeal a decision made by the election committee.

“The Senate’s purpose is to check the election committee,” Becker said. “The election committee’s purpose is to make fair and knowledgeable decisions on the details on an allegation.”

Hall election coordinators will still run elections within each dorm, Becker said.

Knott Hall senator Alex Kasparie said the Oversight Committee looked into all possibilities to adjust the system.

“As a member of the Oversight Committee, I would like to say that his resolution has been a long time coming,” Kasparie said. “We have put a lot of effort into making sure that this is the most effective and fair amendment we could propose.”