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GW student groups re-examine elections

The Student Association Senate approved a new charter for the Joint Elections Committee Nov. 30, which will revamp the make-up of the JEC and approval of future JEC members.

I think that last year’s election provided more than ample evidence that there was a need for election reform, said graduate Sen. Jeff Baxter (at large). In the last election, the JEC announced one total of votes and one week later there were 30 more votes.

SA President Caity Leu joined in support of the new JEC charter after her experience as a candidate last spring.

I had a lot of things academically and personally affect my life (as a result of the election), she said. The length and strain that was put on the candidates was ridiculous.

Under the previous JEC charter, the committee was composed of nine members: three from the SA, three from the Program Board and three from the Marvin Center Governing Board.

The new charter would change the formation of the JEC to have five members, all of whom would be appointed by the SA president and confirmed by the Senate.

Baxter expressed a desire to maintain joint elections.

The only thing that will stop (a joint election) is if the PB and the MCGB feel it is vitally important to control two-thirds of the SA elections, he said.

Since the PB elects two officers (on Election Day) and we elect over 30, by numbers alone it might speak for itself, Executive Vice President Kim McGraw said.

Under the provisions of the new charter, there will be one representative from each presidential campaign to oversee the counting of ballots. The ballots themselves will be secured by University Police and could only be released to the JEC.

After working for three months in a special committee on election reform, which was chaired by Baxter, the committee produced its charter, which contained specific rules regarding campaigning rules, campaign infractions and campaign financing.

Leu said the new charter should protect the JEC members, the candidates and the student body as well.

Despite the bill’s passage by a vote of 16-0 with two abstentions, the approved charter has still sparked controversy among some student leaders.

I would say that (the PB and MCGB) have not been supportive of our decision, said Baxter, who also expressed the desire to hold the SA elections on the same day as the PB and MCGB elections.

I believe the PB is a different entity than the SA, and different rules are necessary than for the SA, Baxter said.

Josh Rothstein, a freshman non-voting senator, proposed a different charter under Phil Meisner’s administration that would be acceptable to both the PB and MCGB.

Rothstein said that under the approved charter, the PB and MCGB would not participate in the same election as the SA.

Under our charter, the JEC would create the rules instead of Jeff’s committee, said Rothstein.

Rothstein said his charter was approved by both Leu, PB Chair Ruthlene Abu-Sahid and MCGB Chair Mike Petron.

But Baxter said Leu never approved the charter.

The only charter agreed upon by the SA this year was this one, Baxter said. At one point President Meisner may have agreed on something, but no president can unilaterally enact a new charter.

Though Rothstein’s proposed charter failed in committee, he said he still plans to bring it to the floor in a future SA meeting.

Rothstein also questioned the make-up of the Senate committee.

The committee was composed of people who are running for re-election, Rothstein said. They are creating rules for their own re-election.

Baxter said this was not a new occurrence.

The charter has always been written by people who may or may not run for election, Baxter said.

Rothstein said his charter would allow the three organizations to establish the rules together.

Between impeachment and this, we’ve been sending the message of polarization in the SA, Rothstein said.

Rothstein cited a student court case from 1997 entitled Carrol and Hamilton vs. the Student Association. In the decision, the court noted that negotiation of the JEC Charter is ultimately the combined responsibility of the SA, PB and MCGB.

Baxter said this was looking a little too far into it and that the court said although it could encourage the groups to work together, the case was ultimately dismissed because the court lacked the standing to mandate working together.

Leu has already made three appointments to the JEC. She appointed junior Steve Cady, freshman Krysta Vollbrecht, as well as Baxter.

Rothstein expressed concern over Baxter’s appointment to the JEC because of his position as a senator.

I think it is wrong. for a (current) senator to govern over other people’s elections, Rothstein said.

The remaining two nominations will be made this week.Even if we disagree on how the election is run, there should not be a disagreement on Election Day, Baxter said.

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