Group considers, confirms Election Committee members
Claire Rafford | Tuesday, September 11, 2018
Notre Dame’s student senate spent most of their weekly meeting debating the confirmation of new members to the Judicial Board’s Election Committee.
“According to the to Section 13.2 of the Constitution of the Undergraduate Student Body, ‘The Election Committee shall review all allegations of potential elections misconduct and all potential violations of elections regulations in accordance with Section 14.5,’” a letter presenting the Judicial Board’s nominees to the Senate said.
Election committee members are also responsible for holding office hours in the spring leading up to student body and class council elections.
After the nominees were presented, president of Judicial Council, junior Shady Girgis, brought some information about one of the nominees to the attention of the Senate.
“We choose the election committee … and then we have training before the FCC [Freshman Class Council] elections,” Girgis said. “And in that training, one of the things we let them know is to not show any bias towards the candidates, so no posters, no endorsing the candidates running for Freshman Class Council. And they were well aware of that.”
Girgis said one of the nominees for the Election Committee, freshman Isabel Snee, posted a photo on social media of a candidate for Freshman Class Council with their campaign material behind the candidate. The post could have been construed as an endorsement for this candidate, which, as stated earlier, is prohibited for Election Committee members.
Snee was apologetic when alerted to the problems with the post and promised that if she were indeed appointed, they would be extremely careful to ensure that it not happen again, Girgis said.
Girgis also said the candidate stated that their intention was not to endorse this candidate and was unaware that the post could have been interpreted as an endorsement.
Girgis said that despite Snee’s mistake, the Judicial Council still vouched for her character, ability to serve on the committee and trust that she would not make the same mistake in the future. Girgis also showed the social media post in question to the Senate for the members to review for themselves.
This information was received with mixed messages from the group and led to much debate among the voting members of the Senate especially. Some senators felt that the post was a clear endorsement and that the candidate should not be approved.
“I think any reasonable person would consider this to be an endorsement,” senator Lindsay McCray from Welsh Family Hall said.
Others said Snee made a mistake that they trusted would not be repeated, placing their confidence in the decision of the Judicial Council.
“I would really like to emphasize that Shady has thrown his support behind [the candidate],” Brendan Watts, Hall President’s Council co-chair said. “He’s the expert here and he believes that [the candidate] has the ability to do the job and he recounts that [the candidate] apologized deeply.”
In addition, some of the senators said that because of the accusations during last year’s student government elections, they were concerned about the appointment of a person who may or may not have endorsed someone, regardless of intentions.
In addition, another controversy regarding an election committee candidate was was brought to the attention of the Senate. Student Union Board executive director Bethany Bogges said a nominee, sophomore Joseph Sheehan, had resigned from a SUB committee because of lack of time and an inability to commit.
The group debated Sheehan’s choice to resign from SUB, which ultimately was seen by many senators as his prerogative to devote more time to Election Committee and other responsibilities.
Instead of approving the Election Committee nominees as a group, the senate decided to vote on all the candidates separately.
Ultimately, all candidates were approved. Seven nominees were confirmed unanimously. One was confirmed through a blind vote, meaning voting members of the Senate submitted their votes on pieces of paper, with 27 affirmations and three abstentions. One candidate was confirmed with 25 affirmations and five negatives.
Snee, Sheehan, freshman Matthew Bisner, junior Andrew Blake, freshman Emily Chen, freshman Luis Ignacio Cheng Graziadei, freshman Josie Donlon, freshman Cameron Harmon, senior Juan Hernandez, sophomore Mitchell Larson and sophomore Esther Park will serve on this year’s Election Committee.