In past years, controversy surrounding Student Government Association elections has abounded, meaning that serious reform was needed. Starting at the beginning of the semester, the SGA has been at work to create legislative measures to reduce the possibility for corruption in the election system. This week, from Monday to Friday, all undergraduate students are eligible to vote in the measures in what is known as a special election.
The most notable of changes surrounding the reform is the new limitations that would be placed on the election board and specifically, its chair. The election board is now no longer responsible for validating or certifying election results, meaning that results for future elections will automatically be certified at a given date and time. That date and time for this upcoming election will be May 15 at 5:59 p.m.
Should the reform be passed, there would also be six other election board members, along with the chair. Now the board needs all seven of its members to vote on policy issues, including taking action upon candidates or officials that violate rules explicitly laid out in the SGA constitution and its bylaws.
The election board chair also has no power or influence in determining the payment received by members of the board. All board members will be paid the same, eliminating the possibility of the chair gaining unfair influence over the other members, since they currently have a role in determining the stipends of said members.
Election reform laid out in this special election also creates two new structures within the SGA, The nominating committee and the appeals board. Both of these structures offer up solutions to decreasing the issue of corruption or cheating in SGA elections and surrounding issues.
The nominating committee, which will be made up of two members from both the senate and finance board, as well as the SGA president and election board chair, will appoint members to the election board and appeals board. This means that certain officials can no longer unilaterally appoint members for these boards. This measure is in hopes of increasing fairness and healthy debate before the placement of individuals into these structures.
The second new structure as mentioned above is the appeals board, which is idealized to act a court or judicial system. This board will only meet when needed to resolve a dispute, interpreting SGA’s rules to do so. The appeals board will consist of three members of UMBC’s Student Judicial Programs, as well as two SGA-selected undergraduates. New legislation regarding the appeals board defines the presence of a “convener,” or a UMBC staff member that will not vote on issues but be sought out as “a point of contact” for the board. Since the convener cannot vote and the SGA typically does not include staff members in their structures, it is unclear what tangible role he or she will play.
Students can vote in this Special Election from 9 a.m. on Monday, Feb. 20 up until 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 24. A simple majority is needed to pass the reform.