Trivial violations should not overshadow student voice

On March 17, 2014

 

When the student body presidential elections were announced the Friday before spring break, it seemed counterintuitive that the candidate with the most votes was not named president.

This is no Bush-Gore saga; there isn’t even an electoral vote to point fingers at this time. Jean Cocco, who won the vote count with 52 percent of the votes, was disqualified based on four campaign violations by the Election Rules Commission (ERC).

While indeed it is important for campaigning rules to be in place for a fair election, it is perhaps worthy of examining if the bigger picture may be lost in looking at what some of the
violations were.

One violation — held against both the Brandi Arnold campaign and the Cocco campaign — was in relation to working links to the Student Government (SG) voting website that were not clearly visible on promotional materials of the campaign. Should something like this count louder than the student vote?

Another violation was in regards to using a celebrity to endorse a campaign, in Cocco’s case former Gov. Charlie Crist. Yet the term “celebrity” is vaguely defined within SG statutes and seems to be a questionable rule to begin with. A campaign endorsement from Crist, an average student or Kim Kardashian should be irrelevant to how a student casts his or her vote; assuming otherwise is something of an insult to students’
intelligence.

It is important that these election rules are evaluated within the context of campaigning. Ideally that is the function of an ERC, an entity that has proven to be chockfull of procedural errors and mishaps this year, from using wrong templates for their documents to possibly reverting to an evaluation process from several years ago.

Checks and balances are important to any political process, but it is essential they don’t lose sight of the bigger picture at hand.

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