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Student Congress rules and judiciary committee considers amending SBP election process

SBP candidate tip-off sparks discussion

Becoming student body president could become more difficult this February.

At the weekly Student Congress meeting today, Evan Ross, vice-chairman of the rules and judiciary committee, said he will propose an amendment to the election process.

The amendment will call for an increase to the number of signatures necessary for candidacy from the current 1,000 signatures to either 1,500 or 1,700. Ross said he believes that this amendment will reduce the possibility of a runoff, cutting the length — and cost — of elections.

Last year’s student body president election saw an initial pool of six candidates. Ross said he hopes to cut that pool to three or four candidates.

“This could be election law for several years to come,” Ross said.

In addition to the increase in signatures, Ross said he is considering proposing an amendment to reduce the amount of money reimbursed to the candidates for campaign funds. This money currently comes from student fees.

Speaker of Congress Deanna Santoro said reducing the field to fewer candidates will make the decision easier for the voter.

Board of Elections Chairman Andrew Phillips said the increase in signatures will motivate candidates to look for new constituencies and incorporate more of the student body in the election.

In addition to an increase in signatures, the rules and judiciary committee will be discussing changes to Title VI of the Student Code, which provides candidates with general elections guidelines.

“We’ve coined the meeting the ‘Election Law Summit’ because 24 pages of the Student Code — the entirety of Title VI — could very well be replaced,” said committee Chairman Zachary De La Rosa.

Speculation regarding the spring 2011 candidate pool for the student body president election will provide a backdrop for those discussions today. In a blog posted Sunday on the Carolina Review website, College Republicans Chairman Anthony Dent wrote that four individuals have been discussed as potential candidates for the election. Those students, he wrote, are Mario Benavente, Mary Cooper, Cierra Hinton and Rick Ingram.

In October 2008, two candidates, Ashley Klein and Matt Wohlford, were fined by the Board of Elections for interviewing with The Daily Tar Heel and announcing their candidacy before they were allowed to do so.

The punishment was justified by the Student Code. Section 402(A) of the Student Code states that candidates cannot publicly announce their intent to run prior to the board’s certification.

Phillips said he has received notice of the blog. He noted that the Board of Elections has not yet received a formal complaint.

“Title VI does regulate when and where candidates can declare their candidacy, but without consulting the Board of Elections, I cannot comment on specifics yet,” Phillips said.

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