Indiana Daily Student

EDITORIAL: Reform IUSA elections

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As the dust settles on another IU Student Association election, it's time to step back and take a look at the student government elections process.

For years our elections have been circuses of low turnout, bitter accusations between tickets and outcomes controlled by the unaccountable Election Commission and IUSA Supreme Court.

This year barely one out of 10 students took the time to vote in an election that was marred, again, by obscure complaints between tickets in attempts to change the election results.

Weeks after the election, the official winner has not been declared but the Empower IUSA ticket is the unofficial victor.

The Editorial Board hopes the first action by the Empower IUSA administration, or another eventual victor, is to drastically overhaul the IUSA election code to create a more democratic and engaged student government elections process.

As it stands, the election code is unsustainable for an active student government.

IU has had years of elections that have barely broken 10-percent turnout.

The elections process creates bitter divides between student leaders that prevent cooperation between tickets after elections end and new administrations are blocked from bringing on effective leaders from other tickets.

Arbitrary and unnecessarily strict speech regulations create a system where tickets have a greater incentive to try to catch other tickets breaking the rules rather than reaching out to students with their own positive message.

Take the case of the Focus for IUSA ticket this year. Due to a clerical error that left out business addresses on its campaign finance report, the ticket was docked 39 percent of its overall vote total.

While campaign finance disclosure is important, filing errors do not rise to the level of taking away student votes.

The result of the IUSA election code, despite its best intentions, is to create a system that disincentivizes tickets reaching out to students, divides student leaders and leaves election outcomes to the whims of an unelected panel of undergraduates.

The status quo is unacceptable and while changes to the election code are up to the IUSA Congress, any proposed election code reform needs to meet several criteria.

Tickets need to be free to reach out to students without fear of having votes deducted.

The Election Commission and IUSA Supreme Court need to have their roles in deciding disqualifications and vote deductions severely limited to cases of fraud or other serious violations. Clerical errors and tabling simply do not warrant taking away student's votes.

Finally, the complaints process needs to be reformed to remove its unnecessarily toxic effects on relationships between student leaders.

The elections process can be reformed to create a more democratic and engaging process. The problem is not our students or elections themselves, but the broken system IUSA has trapped itself in.

Now, IUSA has a chance to fix that system not only for our student government, but for all IU students.

Opinion Editor Zack Chambers was on an IUSA ticket and had no influence on this editorial. 

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