Looking to safeguard against one slate of candidates taking over the board, Pitt Student Government Board proposed revisions to its election code Tuesday night in the William Pitt Union.
Celia Millard, Elections Committee Chair, introduced a bill to update SGB’s 2015-2016 elections code, which she hopes the Board will vote on at SGB’s next meeting in January. If approved, Millard said the rules will apply to the next SGB election campaign beginning in February and the elections on March 1.
“Every year it’s part of election committee’s duty to update the code,” Millard said. “I think we worked really hard this year and introduced a lot more changes than in the past.”
Millard said the biggest change with this bill is that a slate can now have four members instead of three, as long as one of the members is a presidential candidate and three members are Board candidates.
According to Millard, there was a problem with the three-person limit on slates because, in past elections, the slates would affiliate with an independent candidate who would have the same name and initiatives, thus adding an additional person to the slate. The independent candidate became an unofficial slate member that campaigned for the same issues, thus skirting an election code violation.
According to Millard, the elections committee’s goal is to prevent a sweeping election.
“We’re hoping that by allowing candidates to run together as three Board candidates and a presidential candidate, it will prevent the formation of super slates and affiliation,” she said.
The last code allowed a candidate’s staff to consist of four people, including a campaign manager. The proposed bill would allow a candidate to have seven people on their election staff.
Millard said she hopes the proposed changes will encourage students to become more involved in the election process.
“We’re just trying make it as easy as possible on [the] candidate,” Millard said. “We think allowing more people on a team will get people more excited about it [because] you can expand your reach to more organizations and more people.”
Millard said she introduced 70 changes to the code in part because of infractions by past candidates as a result of unclear wording.
For example, during the last election period, one of the candidates submitted a piece of paper early to a student organization that listed their initiatives. The elections committee had to decide whether the paper was considered a flyer, a poster or neither. If the paper was considered a flyer or poster, the elections committee would consider that an infraction.
To avoid this confusion in the future, Millard said the elections committee changed the bill to read “all printed materials” instead of “flyers and posters.”
Alex Ross, the elections committee vice chair, said in an email that the purpose of the revision is to decrease ambiguity and make the elections process smoother for candidates.
“I believe the biggest change we are making is the removal of campaign liaisons,” Ross said. “We are replacing these poorly defined members of the campaign with staff members.”
Millard said many of the proposed changes, including the addition of staff members, were a result of discussions with current Board members who said they needed more people helping them.
“So we came up with the idea of staff members, more people that take on these roles, like if [candidates] want a marketing person or finance person.”
Ross said that while students will probably not notice changes to the elections code, candidates definitely will.
“We are making an effort to make the election process easier on the candidates so that they can focus on reaching out to the student body,” Ross said. “We are trying to help candidates structure their campaigns while making sure that no candidate is at a disadvantage.”
Millard and Ross presented the bill to the Board at SGB’s weekly board planning session on Friday.
Nasreen Harun, SGB president, said that the session went well.
“One thing we talked about was accountability for volunteers and also campaign finance,” Harun said. “We went through everything very in depth and I think the committee did a really good and thorough job.”
There were no allocations requests at Tuesday’s meeting.