Students voted on the Student Association’s proposed “Accountability and Reform Amendment” today, and quirks in the electoral procedure abounded.
Supporters of the amendment, including author and Student Association Deputy Chief of Staff Matt Stoller (COL ’08), spent election day in Red Square handing out t-shirts and encouraging passing students to vote on a nearby laptop. This might ring a few bells for those who remember last year’s presidential election debacle, in which candidates Khalil Hibri (SFS ’07) and Geoff Greene (SFS ’07) were disqualified for campaigning on Election Day and encouraging students to vote on a nearby laptop.
“That raised a few eyebrows in the administration,” Eden Schiffmann (COL ’08), Student Association Chief of Staff, said. But he said that nobody outside of the Student Association seemed to be concerned.
And although the vote doesn’t appear to be exactly by the book, Twister Murchison (SFS ’08), President of the Student Association, said that this was simply because there is no book when it comes to referendums. The rules referring to the procedure for taking referenda are remarkably brief for a document as complicated as the Student Association bylaws.
With the procedure for referenda so open, Schiffman said that extensive dialogue took place between the Student Association and the Election Commission in order to make sure that everything was done in an acceptable manner. Eventually the decision was made to follow the format of presidential elections, which by extension would seem to make campaigning on voting day illegal.
The logic, Schiffman said, did not extend that far. He said that without an actual competitor in the vote, there was no one to offend with voting day campaigning.
The amendment was also attached to a survey on the keg ban, which Stoller said probably boosted voter participation.
In fact, activists spent most energy encouraging students to vote on the keg ban survey rather than on the amendment, even going so far as to include a keg full of root beer in the middle of Red Square. The tag line for attracting potential voters was not, “Have you voted on the Accountability and Reform Amendment?” but “Did you vote on the keg ban yet?”
Schiffman said that there were probably some people who voted only for the keg ban and ignored the amendment, but he said that this was probably countered by the fact that some students probably voted on the amendment and ignored the keg ban. He smiled as he added, “I have to say that.”
Posted by John Lawless, Staff Writer