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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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ASUU proposes changes to election rules

Rick Pehrson, attorney general of the Associated Students of the University of Utah, is proposing a bill that will change the rules for student elections.

The alterations include lowering the financial caps and the amount one may donate to a candidate, denying the use of e-mail spamming and unsolicited text messaging, clarifying the definition of “active campaigning,” and having the ASUU Senate vote on the rules and regulations in the election packet.

“It is the goal of ASUU to improve the campaign rules to ensure that students’ privacy is not being violated and that the elections process is fair, positive and effective in electing representatives,” Pehrson said in a written statement.

In total, the financial cap would be lowered from $11,500 to a little more than $9,200-a decrease of 20 percent.

“More students will be able to run for elected office, and the elections will be more focused on issues because the campaigns will not have money to waste on fluff,” Pehrson said.

“We want to clear the way for the most-qualified and not the most-connected students to be able to run for office.”

Rob Beck, last year’s vice presidential candidate of the People Incorporated Party, agrees with the change.

“One of my biggest concerns as I considered running last year (was) how were we supposed to raise the money to be competitive…Lowering the amount a campaign can spend will hopefully encourage more students to get involved,” Beck said.

The bill is also asking for the amount a person may donate to a campaign to be lowered from $250 to $150.

“By lowering the amount of money that can be donated by any one person, candidates will be forced to reach out to more people,” Pehrson said.

Beck said lowering contributions is good but thinks the elections registrar needs to focus more on auditing where the donations come from.

“I am not aware of anybody who was called from our contributions list last year,” Beck said. “This will help eliminate students who come from wealthy families just getting $10,000 donated and then saying it is coming from brother, sister, grandma, neighbor, friend, etc.”

The elections registrar is a student who is appointed by the ASUU president to act as a judge through the election process.

Another potential rule change would prevent candidates from e-mail spamming and sending unsolicited text messages to students’ cell phones.

Last year, a grievance was filed against the People Incorporated Party for sending more than 3,000 text messages to students, some of whom claimed the messages were unsolicited.

The grievance was overturned because Scott Ence, last year’s elections registrar, gave the party permission. There was no rule in Redbook, ASUU’s constitution, on which he could base his decision.

“Redbook constantly has to be updated to take into account the modernization of society,” Pehrson said.

He added that many students pay to receive text messages, and it would be unfair for a campaign to be able to “cold text” without permission.

The bill proposed would also make the elections registrar responsible for further defining “active campaigning” before the start of the election cycle.

According to election rules, a party may not start actively campaigning or asking students for their vote in any way until the approved deadline.

“It seems every year a campaign does something that the other party feels constitutes active campaigning before the approved deadline,” Pehrson said.

“We feel a stiffer and more easily understood definition would stop these potential problems before they start,” Pehrson said.

Another proposal would require the Senate to approve what the elections registrar sets as rules in the election packet, including his or her definition of active campaigning.

Pehrson said this is to stop the elections registrar from having unchecked power over election policies.

“In ASUU, the balance and division of powers is essential,” Pehrson said.

Before sending the bill to the student Senate and General Assembly for approval and finalization, he wants student input and the chance to make adjustments.

Pehrson wrote the first draft of the bill after interviewing several people who have been involved in past ASUU elections, including previous candidates, election registrars and campaign managers.

“With all of this input, a wide range of opinions was expressed. Through these interviews and my personal study of Redbook, the issues were picked that we feel are most important to fix before next year’s elections,” Perhson said.

An election open forum will be held Nov. 10 at 5 p.m. in the ASUU office located in Union Room 234, at which students may express any concerns or opinions they have on the student government elections.

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