ASUR election regulations serve to make a fair and orderly guidelines for the candidates to follow. The regulations in this system are meant to mitigate abuse of the election process.
During the course of this election season, candidates such as Peter Kaffen and Kamal Bilal, who was sworn in as ASUR President on Wednesday, were announced to have been in violation of these regulations on various accounts. Incidents such as keeping campaign fliers up during the election’s voting period, not turning in statements of campaign expenses in on time, and mass emails about the candidacy have become a topic of concern over the election process and how fair and realistic the regulations are.
Benjamin Harrison, the ASUR Elections Commissioner commented, “I do think that the incidents were fairly dealt with, and that the violations help keep the candidates in line.” He continued, “If we just had the campaigns running around and doing whatever they wanted to, it would give them an unfair advantage over another campaign, and this year we really tried to make sure everyone was on an equal playing field.”
With reservation, candidates Kamal Bilal and Peter Kaffen said that they did feel their particular cases were fair.
To run for ASUR President, all potential candidates must attend a preliminary meeting. During this time, the ASUR constitution and its bylaws were outlined so candidates would understand what to expect during the campaigning period, what constituted a violation, and how violations and regulations would be implemented.
“Each clause is read aloud and gone over thoroughly, even though there are a couple holes in the constitution, I do believe the fines I received are fair because I was aware of the rules before hand,” Bilal said.
Bilal had received two violations over the course of the election. The first was for a mass email advocating his presidential running. The second was for failure to turn in receipts by the deadline of reimbursement.
“Leaving anything up past the campaigning period was explicit. But I will say sometimes the advertising policy can come off ambiguous. It just depends on who and how they’re reading it,” Kaffen said in regards to his experience.
Between concerned students, a discussion arose to question if monetary fines were reasonable punishments for the campaign. According to Harrison, the system has become much more accessible within recent years for anyone in the student body to run for presidency.
“About three years ago, Senate passed through legislation that eliminated the $150 deposit. So that means candidates can run free of charge… everything is reimbursed.”
The monetary fine itself is about $15 to $30 for less serious violations, such as those seen during this campaign season, and up to $50 to $80 for more serious violations. Even in the event of a most serious violation being breached, the candidate would only have to pay a little over half of what they would have used to pay for the deposit.
This year;s ASUR presidential election campaigning was highly anticipated, with advertisements for presidential candidates seen posted across campus and a six way election going between each of the campaigners. After the voting period ended, the results for the election came in, announcing Bilal as the winner of the primary election, 39 percent to Kaffen’s 25 percent. Since there was no simple majority of 51 percent in the primary election, a runoff election was announced as per the rules of the ASUR Constitution.
“I do feel like [simple majority] is the best way to do this type of election between six people… In order to give the students a chance to give people a chance to let their voice be heard again through the run-off election,” Harrison said.
There was some disagreement amongst others as to if there was a more ideal way to rank candidates and fairly assess the election process.
“I feel that the runoff election is very redundant,” Bilal continued, “I felt that I won by a significant margin in the first round clearly showing what our students wanted. I think our system [needs] to change to one that ranks the opponents. So you order your choices from 1-6, so that we don’t even need run-off elections. This system [would be] more democratic and efficient.”
Despite a 14 point difference in the primary election, the runoff election came much closer with a 3 point difference, with Bilal winning with 51 percent. Kamal Bilal will serve as the ASUR President for 2017-2018 school year.