Campus clips: things you should know about the election, in a language you can understand
Twice a year, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg (USFSP) holds Student Government Association (SGA) elections. Past and present elections are littered with scandal, complications, and hard-to-follow political jargon. We sat down with Student Body President David Thompson and Supervisor of Elections Shannon Scanlon to get the details and break it down for you.
The gist of the system:
The first thing to understand when it comes to politics is the breakdown of the system you are voting in. USFSP’s SGA consists of three branches, as most traditional democracies do, executive, legislative, and judicial.
The executive branch holds the positions of president, vice-president, chief financial officer, attorney general, graphics and web design coordinator, sustainability coordinator, and upperclassmen affairs coordinator. The president and vice-president run for office together and are voted in. All other positions in the executive branch are appointed positions that go through a standard apply and interview process.
The legislative branch is comprised of the senators. The SGA website currently says there are 30 seats in the Senate, but only lists 16 of them as being occupied. Each of these positions is earned by a formal campaign run and student voting process.
The judicial branch. This branch of the government holds the supreme court, which is comprised of seven justices including one chief justice. These positions are selected by the Student Body President with backing from the Senate.
Lastly, we have the elections rules commission (ERC). Comprised of three commissioners, their duty is to manage each election that takes place on campus.
The gist of this election:
This election votes in a new president and vice-president and up to 15 senators. All of the positions require the submission of a general election candidate packet, failure to submit by the deadline means you are not eligible to run in this election period. The qualifying period to submit the candidate packet was Feb. 7 at 5 p.m.
The campaign period opened on Monday, Feb. 19. The voting period opens Monday, Feb. 26 and closes Thursday, March 1. The winners will be announced at 6 p.m. according to the SGA public calendar.
Who is running and what complications have come up:
The only president and vice-president candidates up for election are Daniel “Kaeden” Kelso and Ysatis Jordan. The duo currently holds seats in the Senate.
There was one other potential set of candidates, Mariah McQueen and Samantha Fiore, but they were disqualified in a unanimous vote from the ERC on Feb. 12. A complaint was submitted within 24 hours of McQueen’s campaign packet submission stating that McQueen had obtained signatures for Fiore, without Fiore present.
Now, backing up a bit, the packet mentioned and linked to above states that,
“Each Position must turn in a packet including at least 100 signatures, for a total of at least 100 signatures for the ticket (Presidential packet and Vice President packets may include the same names and signatures.)”
Since the above vote to disqualify McQueen and Fiore, another complaint has been filed, this time against Kelso and Jordan. The complaint claimed that Kelso and Jordan were in violation of campaign rules for posting an image of themselves posing with a USF logo on Facebook.
Today at 12:52 p.m., the ERC voted unanimously to throw out the case filing the complaint against Kelso and Jordan stating,
“The picture including the bull logo does not relate to their campaign.”
Had the vote gone in the other direction, Kelso and Jordan could have incurred between a two and 10 point penalty against their campaign. As outlined by SGA rules, two points are deducted for a minor violation, and 10 points for a major violation. If a set of candidates incurs 10 points, they are disqualified from the election.
Looking forward to this election:
In order for Kelso and Jordan to be elected, they must receive 50 percent plus one yes vote on a ballot. If this fails to occur the election will move into a special election.
Thompson tells us,
“There is a plan in place, but no one has ever had to use it… So basically, you would have an expedited election in which the ERC would set up the rules for the election.”
Tonight there is a senate and presidential town hall to take place at the University Student Center (USC) from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. where students can get to know the candidates.