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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

SA Senate votes to allow write-in candidates to submit ballot statement for runoff elections

Grace Hromin | Assistant Photo Editor
The JEC released an opinion during the 2019 SA election forbidding write-in candidates from submitting a photo and purpose statement, according to the bill.

The Student Association Senate voted to update election procedures at its last meeting of the semester Monday, allowing write-in candidates in runoff elections to submit additional information on the ballot for voters’ consideration.

The senate action grants any write-in candidate the ability to submit a profile photo and campaign statement if they advance to a runoff election in any opposed senate race. Senators also approved legislation encouraging professors to conduct their courses via Zoom instead of other virtual platforms because of student preferences, dismissed a senator for a lack of attendance at meetings and confirmed two members to the Joint Elections Commission, the body that oversees SA elections.

SA Sen. Charles Aborisade, U-at-Large and the sponsor of The Runoff Reform Act of 2020, said the bill changes the body’s bylaws to allow a write-in candidate, if they advance to a runoff election, to submit a portrait and ballot statement to the JEC 24 hours before the runoff.

“Not only am I in favor of it but also a number of endorsers across the SA are in favor as well as the newest member of the JEC,” he said. “I think this is a very practical, very easy bill.”

The senate voted to use a ranked-choice voting system – which avoids the opportunity for a runoff election – for the SA president and executive vice president races beginning with the 2020 SA elections. Senators approved legislation late last month to allow for ranked-choice voting for all constituencies with more than one senator for the 2021 SA election.

SA Sen. Gabriel Young, CCAS-U and the co-sponsor of the bill, said his constituent Justin Diamond – who spoke in favor of the bill during public comment – presented the bill to amend the SA’s bylaws to Young because Diamond was “barred” by the JEC from submitting a photo and statement during his runoff election in 2019.

Diamond, a junior, launched a last-minute campaign for the SA’s top spot in the 2019 election, resulting in a runoff between Diamond and SJ Matthews, the latter of whom would be elected SA president. Diamond ran on a platform to abolish the SA.

The JEC released an opinion during the 2019 SA election forbidding write-in candidates from submitting a photo and purpose statement, according to the bill.

“Justin just wanted to make sure across the board for the Joint Election Committee that they will allow any other race that will allow for a runoff election to have what he did not have,” Young said. “In other words, this was a constituent coming up to us saying ‘Hey, I just want to make sure that anyone else who runs doesn’t go through the same pain I did.’”

Senators also approved a resolution urging professors to teach their courses via Zoom instead of Webex or Blackboard Collaborate after senators received student feedback that Zoom is the preferred teaching platform. SA Sen. Kate Carpenter, U-at-Large and the sponsor of the resolution, said she and other senators will email department heads and Provost Brian Blake about the SA’s support for using Zoom.

She said she will also include in the emails the results of a survey she sent to students last month, which states that more than 90 percent of respondents prefer Zoom over Blackboard Collaborate Ultra or Webex. She said the survey received more than 100 responses.

“The goal of this legislation is not to mandate it but rather to express student sentiment and opinions regarding our online platform for the spring,” Carpenter said.

The senate also voted to remove SA Sen. Thomas Waldrop, SMHS-U, from the body for his absence from all senate and committee meetings this semester. Executive Vice President Brandon Hill said Waldrop “failed his senatorial oath of promoting the welfare of his constituents” and violated the body’s attendance policies and said the proceedings of his removal were “nothing more than a formality.”

Hill added that the senate will commence the body’s “vacancy process” for the School of Medicine and Health Sciences’ undergraduate seat. SA Sen. Thomas Falcigno, CPS-G and the chairperson pro tempore of the senate, will create an application for the new vacancy and conduct interviews with candidates before they are passed along to the senate for a vote, according to the body’s governing documents.

Senators also confirmed Trip Johnson and Nicole Mackowski, two first-year graduate students, onto the JEC.

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