SGA Officials: Duplicate applicants within rules

Seventy-six applications were submitted for the 48 seats in the House of Student Representatives by the cut off this past Tuesday.

However, the number of applicants is fewer than the number of applications.

According to the Student Body Code, there is no rule prohibiting candidates from applying for multiple positions, but they cannot win more than one, said Speaker of the House Merillat Pittman.

House Elections and Regulations Committee Chair Garyn Goldston said that if a candidate should win more than one seat when votes are cast on April 20, he would work with that person to choose one position before the results are released. The decision would be based on which position would best represent the student body and the needs of the House, he said. The other position would then be filled by the candidate with the next highest number of votes.

“I’m going to call each one of these people individually, and we’re going to deal with this accordingly before the results are announced,” Goldston said.

Duplicate applicants were a good sign for the Student Government Association, Goldston said.

“In the past we’ve had difficulties in filling House,” he said.

The duplicate applicants were a good sign, he said, because it meant people were working extra hard to ensure they got a seat.

One reason duplicate applicants might have become more of a problem this semester is because of the addition of seats for the John V. Roach Honors College, Goldston said. Because all honors students have a major in another school, they qualify for multiple seats, just as all candidates for a class representative also qualify to represent their respective college.

Pittman said this was not a new problem.

“It has happened in the past,” Pittman said. “In fact, the Elections and Regulations chair from just the previous year dealt with this. It was a fairly small number of people, and so because of that, nothing was really even noticed about it. I would guess that something similar would have happened this year if it hadn’t come up.”

Pittman said she was unsure whether a candidate had ever won more than one position before, but that the Elections and Regulations Committee chair has the authority to decide which seat a candidate would take if the situation arose.

She said she does not think the candidates applying for more than one seat believed they could actually represent multiple places.

“You can’t take more than one seat, I think that’s pretty clear, but how the election is carried out is not clear,” Pittman said.

Following the House meeting last Tuesday night, the House Executive Committee met to discuss the status of the election. Pittman said members were concerned about whether this approach was fair because it might give some candidates an advantage if they were applying for more than one spot and were therefore more likely to win.

“Every angle was explored with it, but in the end it was determined that the way our rules are written our election chair is responsible for conducting the rules, so it’s his final decision,” Pittman said. “This isn’t the first year it’s happened, it’s just the first year that people really thought of it as a problem.”

Although the process for deciding which seat the candidate would take is not in the Student Body Code, Pittman said she was confident the election was being carried out in accordance with the regulations SGA does have.

“The way it’s being handled right now is according to our Student Body Code,” Pittman said. “That might not mean that it’s a perfect system, but it’s what we have, and we’re trying to go the best we can according to our rules.”

Both Goldston and Pittman said that if this continued to be a problem, legislation would likely be brought to the House to clarify.

“If this proves to be a problem, which it hasn’t been in the past.then certainly I think (one will) see legislation come through the House to try to perfect it,” Pittman said. “When it comes to elections, the most fair thing we can do it stick by the rules as they’re laid out now, and that’s what Garyn is trying to do.”