Student elections with victors chosen by 6 percent of the student body, the announcing of winners delayed by legal challenges to a student court and a resulting student Congress that only passes two bills in a year do not serve any of us.
At the heart of these problems is a broken IU Student Association election code that allows the IUSA Supreme Court to decide elections.
To reform IUSA elections and our student government, we must remove the IUSA Supreme Court from its role in determining elections through a complete restructuring of the University campaign finance system.
Tickets can have votes deducted by the IUSA Supreme Court for minor violations that often come from the burden of interpreting a convoluted election code and not serious offenses like intentional voter fraud.
The idea that accidental campaign finance errors about T-shirt purchases should determine election outcomes, like they did in 2015, is absurd.
The source of many of these “violations” is an Election Commission-imposed $3,000 cap on ticket spending.
Candidates have to deal with Kafka-esque accounting rules on candidate versus donor spending, a nebulous definition of “free market value” used to price campaign expenditures and other regulations to abide by the $3,000 cap.
A possible reform effort that would remove the court from the process would be to take a page from the federal and states election codes and allow for public financing backed up by a voter signature ballot access requirement.
Tickets would register early in the spring semester and have a month to collect 500 electronic student “voter signatures” to have access to the ballot.
Tickets that fulfill this requirement would be put on the ballot and receive funding from IUSA for somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 to begin their races.
Public financing of tickets would ensure that students with less financial resources would not be stopped from running and would allow the removal of the $3,000 total spending cap.
Tickets would then be allowed to raise an unlimited amount of money in small amounts from individual donors — a rough level might be $100-$250 per person.
Finally, the Election Commission should eliminate the Supreme Court’s ability to deduct vote totals and limit its ability to disqualify tickets to only cases of serious voter fraud. All other minor election violations would have fines assessed instead.
This would ensure fair access to IUSA elections for all students, remove the main source of campaign finance violations and allow for broader outreach to the student body by active tickets. Most importantly, these reforms would put IU’s student government back where it belongs — in students’ hands.
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