MCSG elections explained

By Will Chick

In the days since the MCSG executive election a number of questions have arisen regarding what actually happened on election day. Unfortunately, the Election Procedures Committee (EPC), of which I am a part, has been closed-lipped up until now. This was done not out of a desire to hide what we were doing, but a desire to protect the candidates’ privacy. However, in order to dispel the misinformation circling campus and to indulge my own desire for transparency I’d like to take you through the day’s events.All candidates are required to remove all campaign materials by midnight before the polls open on election day. However, as is usually the case with Macalester elections, this wasn’t entirely the case. A student came forward that morning with photographs of a number of Brittany Lewis’ posters remaining in place on election day. The EPC went out to investigate these claims and was able to verify these claims as well as to discover the posters of 4 other candidates.

In previous elections, the standard procedure for an advertising violation has been to fine the candidate $5 for each advertisement which remained up. This was the procedure which was followed for four candidates. However, in Brittany’s case this was not her first violation. Brittany had already been fined for her illegal use of a campus list-serv to advertise her campaign. Because this was her second violation, and because she had not a few, but ten documented violations, the EPC felt that a fine was not an adequate penalty. We also felt that these two infractions were not grounds for disqualification. After nearly three hours of deliberation, including consultations with staff members, we chose to penalize Brittany five percent of her votes received.

When votes were tabulated that evening, all races except the presidential election were tabulated according to standard policy with representatives from all campaigns present. When the presidential votes were counted, all representatives were asked to move to the outer room, an observer from the Student Judicial Council was brought in, and the doors to the Boardroom were closed. Ironically, this was done to prevent the circling of misinformation in case of a contested election or appeal. The votes were tabulated by the current Executive Board with the exception of President Jess Hasken who was speaking with the representatives outside.

In the end, Brittany was docked twelve votes. This had no effect on the final winner of the election. I repeat, this had no effect on the final winner of the election. However, it was enough to move Brittany from 2nd to 3rd place. This is significant because in the event of a runoff, the last place candidate’s votes are removed from the pool and redistributed according to their second choice. Tabulations were made for both Brittany in 3rd place, as per the penalty, as well as with Brittany in 2nd place. In both situations, Franz Meyer was the clear winner. When the results were released to the Mac Weekly, the results with the penalty were published.

When approached by the Mac Weekly, the EPC declined comment because we were of a belief that the proceedings needed to be held confidential. Upon review, there is no such clause in either the MCSG Constitution or the Bylaws.

The decisions made by the EPC are decisions which I stand by. They are also fully within the EPC’s powers as currently stated by the Constitution. This does not mean that they were the right decision.

The actions taken by myself and the EPC amount to voter disenfranchisement. Twelve students’ voices were removed from our elective process. No body at any level, college or national, should have the right to remove voices from democratic processes. It is my understanding that a challenge is being put before the Student Judicial Council (SJC), and I look forward to their ruling.

This being said, the role of the EPC is unnecessarily vague as laid out by the MCSG Constitution giving them sweeping powers checked only by the power of appeal to the SJC. The role of the EPC needs to be revised and clarified with clear limits placed upon it.

Unfortunately, the Election Code is currently located in the MCSG Constitution. The Constitution can only be altered after successfully passing a student referendum. The MCSG is working to place a referendum moving the Election Code to the Bylaws on the ballots for class representatives which will be taking place later this month. Once placed in the Bylaws, the Election Code can be altered by a two-thirds majority vote of the Legislative Body.

I urge you to vote in favor of this referendum as well as to get involved with the revision process. Please contact [email protected] if you would like to be involved in the process.