ERC readies itself for upcoming elections

Student Government’s Election Rules Commission (ERC) kicks off this year’s election season today at 9 a.m., when hopeful candidates may begin to turn in applications for student body president and vice president, as well as senatorial seats, for the 2007-08 school year.

Each fall, a new supervisor of elections is appointed to the ERC and begins the task of recruiting staff to fill the other ERC positions. This year’s supervisor, Devin Lee, began filling his staff in late November and hopes to have all of the positions filled by the end of the week.”I have one more position to be confirmed,” Lee said. ” I have two people up for the position, and one of them should be confirmed by (tonight).”

Once all of the workers are hired, Lee and his staff can begin the process of sorting through the applications and confirming whether potential candidates are eligible to run for office.

As of Monday night, the Oracle had received confirmation of intent to run from only one presidential ticket, senate president Barclay Harless and running mate Garin Flowers.

As for those holding office, student body president Frank Harrison intends to graduate this spring and therefore will not seek reelection. Vice President Faran Abbasi chose not to become public with his decision at this time.

Lee said that while he doesn’t know specific names of potential candidates, he heard that students working in both WBUL and the SAFE Team intend to apply.

The deadline for applications is Jan. 26 at 5 p.m. Candidates will be notified of their eligibility soon after, and campaigning will commence in early February.

Once the campaigns are underway, the ERC will act as a rule enforcer to ensure a fair election.

A main priority for the ERC is following up with grievances filed against tickets. If the ERC deems the grievance valid, the ticket will be pointed. Any ticket with 10 or more points will be disqualified.

Although the ERC has attempted to enforce rigid campaign rules in the past, Lee said this election season will be different.

“We’re trying to take a less conservative approach to the elections,” Lee said. “I don’t want to make it sound like it’s chaos, but it’s kind of based around having trust with the candidates in that they will follow the rules and run a good election.”

Students may notice two major changes this year. Lee said the ERC will allow candidates to spend a significantly larger amount of money on their campaigns. In the past, presidential candidates were only authorized to spend a little more than $1,000. However, with Lee’s new plan they will have the opportunity to spend up to $3,000.

Dissolving a very controversial rule that states only campaign staff members may campaign for a ticket will be Lee’s next major revision. Previously, any ticket caught having students other than those on their staff could be pointed.

Lee said this rule would be changed so that the only person receiving disciplinary action would be the student, providing he or she was breaking one of the rules in the USF Code of Conduct. Otherwise, any student may campaign for any ticket and neither would receive a punishment.

Lee said it was important for students not only to vote in February, but also to consider running for office.

“I think it’s important for as many students to vote as possible regardless of which candidate they vote for … In the end, it makes Student Government look better because it makes it look like we are representing this large group of people that had the desire to vote in our election. So the more candidates we have, ultimately the more votes we get as well.”