Last Thursday marked the closing of the Central Student Government elections, yet the results weren’t announced until Tuesday night. On March 24, CSG parties FORUM and Make Michigan filed numerous complaints against a number of parties. Though the the University Elections Commission found defendants not guilty in the original complaints, four new complaints were filed by Make Michigan over the weekend against FORUM, the Party Party and the House of Cards Party. For the last two years, CSG has shown that it’s unable to conduct itself in a mature manner that puts student voices above petty politics. Since CSG is obviously not capable of monitoring itself, the University must step in as a third party to monitor CSG elections.

Each year, CSG parties track the actions of their opponents, searching for possible violations in the UEC election code. Individual candidates who receive 5 demerits, and entire parties that receive 10 or more demerits are automatically disqualified from the election. Alleged violations are reviewed by the University Elections Commission, which assigns any applicable demerits — in this case, one to two demerits per minor infraction and three to four for major violations. Unfortunately, the demerit policy created a system in which parties win based on violations, not political platforms. Last year, LSA seniors Chris Osborn and Hayley Sakwa, executive candidates for FORUM, received the majority of votes but were disqualified from the election because of several violations. The demerit policy doesn’t reflect a democratic system. CSG’s failure to adequately remedy the situation after last year’s debacle indicates that the student government doesn’t take its electoral system seriously. These petty scandals and lawsuits perpetuate the often misplaced campus perception that CSG is a trivial and ineffective institution.

Failing to enforce an appropriate election system doesn’t just hurt CSG — it hurts the students that believe and participate in student government. Dedicating time to learn about candidates requires effort, and students deserve to have their votes count. However, 3-percent penalties can rescind a significant number of votes, especially when a person rapidly accumulates demerits. Election penalty policies are extreme, and in some cases candidates lose a majority of their votes — or are disqualified — for breaking a policy that affect a relatively small portion of the electorate.

With CSG allowing this broken system to occur for a third consecutive year, it’s time for the University to intervene. CSG is supposed to be a crucial organization that connects students to the University administration. Since CSG has proven time after time that it’s not equipped to handle elections in a professional manner, University officials must intervene in order to ensure elected CSG officials represent the voice of students. The University should create a third judiciary party consisted of faculty members to monitor each election. With a judiciary system reigning outside political campaigns and the CSG body of representatives, officials could fairly monitor situations and handle violations appropriately. Filing insignificant charges — such as asserting that a campaign failed to report an $18 hotdog suit or a $7 wand — are making a mockery of CSG. Change is necessary in order to refocus the priorities of CSG onto the students.

Correction appended: A previous version of this article stated that individuals could be disqualified with 10 demerits and parties could be disqualified with 28, and the Central Student Judiciary reviewed election demerits.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.